Opening then closing schools angers parents

February 22, 2008 3:48:31 PM PST
The decision made many parents angry, but school officials are standing by it. They explained the district must call a snow day before dawn. By the time conditions got a lot worse, thousands of kids were already on their way to school on snow-covered streets.

Early this morning, students from both public and Catholic schools set off for class in the falling snow. Everyone thought for sure school would be canceled like it was for hundreds of other districts around the region.

"I was surprised. We've had snow less than this and We've had a day off," said teacher Joanne Deprince.

"We thought that we were going to stay home. We were going to drink hot cocoa and stuff," said sixth grader Matthew Wood.

With the flakes flying, school maintenance teams worked to keep sidewalks clear.

Many of school buses operated by private companies never ran their routes leaving students stranded in the snow. School officials explained they must decide on closing schools before 5 a.m. so that the media gets the information and employees and buses get going on time.

"We looked out the window. We looked at the weather report. We conferred with the city. We went with the decision that made the most sense between 4:30 and 4:45 a.m," said Frank Farlino, the Philadelphia Public Schools' chief operating officer.

But, at 8:00 a.m., the National Weather Service changed its advisory to a warning that included the threat of ice. Around 10:00 a.m, officials from both the district and archdiocese decided to send students home at noon. Many parents were furious.

"I had to go to work in Wayne, come home, and then go back to work in Wayne," said Mary Quigley.

The district is now considering legal action against those private bus companies that didn't pick up the kids they're supposed to.

If you have a student who didn't see his or her bus today, the district wants you to mail in your complaint in writing.