Many Unhappy With SCS Decision To Stay Open

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(WREG-TV) There are a lot of people unhappy with the Shelby County School system today.

Despite the closure of many schools around it, SCS decided to hold classes.

As the morning progressed, more schools closed and more and more accidents were taking place.

Even SCS school board member David Reaves expressed his anger.

When we asked for an interview to explain what happened, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson wouldn't go on camera.

His Chief of Staff Reginald Porter admitted there was miscommunication, and said when buses started rolling at 5 a.m., the roads seemed pretty clear.

"It's really a tough call, especially since we have expanded to the county. We have to take everything into account. I can't say which roads were specifically looked at," said Porter.

Here is a statement from Hopson:

District staff monitored the weather and the streets all night and checked in with reports at 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. We knew this would be a tough call because there was no significant precipitation at those times, and forecasts had changed multiple times overnight.

Precipitation started after buses were en route, but given the information we had at the time, we did not believe it was in the best interest of students to close schools. Bus drivers were urged to be especially cautious in isolated areas where conditions may have worsened through the morning. 

We ran approximately 1,300 bus routes this morning. We had one minor accident, where a car hit one of our buses, but all students arrived at school safely. Our primary mission is to educate children.

We have alarming literacy rates and achievement gaps across our city and suburbs, and every day we are out of school is a lost opportunity for teaching and learning. Notably, the ASD, charter schools and many private schools in Memphis and Shelby County are also in session today. 

We will continue to monitor the weather and road conditions and remain in contact with the weather bureaus and emergency management officials throughout the day as we have throughout this winter season.

At 4:39 Wednesday morning, snow was  falling at the WREG studios.

"Light snow already making it across the area,” meteorologist Todd Demers said.

While we were on air, Shelby County Schools says they had teams out driving the roads.

“I can’t say which roads specifically were looked at, but we have a robust crew,” Reginald Porter with SCS said.

The district told WREG they didn't see enough of this to cancel school.

“We typically try to do it before 5, but I’ll tell you if there was a threat at 5:30, we would stop school.”

Buses were sent out and some ran into trouble crossing icy bridges.

“Just seeing all of that, I just couldn't believe they hadn't made the decision to call off school,” Cordova mom Jennifer Carsley said.

She called the superintendent around 7 Wednesday morning.

“I was told he was driving around on the streets. I assume if he was driving around on the streets, he would have seen how bad it was,” she said.

Carlsey says safety should be the district’s top priority.

The district said theirs is education.

“The primary goal for our school district is that all of our kids get an education,” Porter said.

The superintendent echoed that point in a statement this afternoon.

"We have alarming literacy rates and achievement gaps across our city and suburbs, and every day we are out of school is a lost opportunity for teaching and learning," Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said.

“That's unbelievable,” she said.

She chose not to send her daughter to school and hopes next time the district will err on the side of caution.

The district said buses went out to all 1,300 routes and all kids got to school safely.


  • Nick Martin

    Shelby County Schools just wanted to stay open for the money. It’s cold hearted to let schools resume knowing that the National Weather Service announced frozen precipitation that will sleet roads etc. Shelby County Schools must not care for the health of the students . But i must say this wasn’t the only time they done this. I’m glad this was aired on the news.

  • GetInformed

    The bottom line is that SCS school days are 15 minutes longer than is mandated by the state. This allows for 5 built in snow days. I would assume the built in snow days are supposed to be there for days like today. No reason to build the days in if they aren’t going to use them.

  • mad dad

    This is another time SCS got it wrong. My Daughter was at her bus stop at 6:15 by 6:45 the bus was a no show. What were they thinking .The call should have been made to at 5am. NO SCHOOL We are in the 38138 zip so I know what SCS thinks of the kids here. Next year is going to be a real joke.

  • Julia E

    The schools should have closed today. SCS’s statement, that focused on missing a day, is ridiculous when the safety of our students is a consideration. We have built-in snow days for a reason. Parents should use their own common sense. However, if parents had kept their children home they would have to live with the consequences of their child having a ‘not excused’ absence. The powers-that-be dropped the ball…thankfully no one was hurt today…they were lucky.

  • LStauffer

    “…little more *than*…”

    Wouldn’t want to be misunderstood – or not get the point across, as it is so very important to my tough love with you…

  • MissTee

    There was “only one minor accident”. This just is not a sufficient excuse or justification. The roads looked clear? Have these clowns never heard of black ice? I have. I hit several patches of it on the way to work. Under any other circumstances would the statement that we only had one accident be acceptable?

  • LStauffer

    Which is more important?

    A child’s life? Or a TCAP score?

    I think I know where administrators’ opinions fall.

    Oh – and while a goodly number of Northerners (especially people outside municipal limits) do live with at least one junk pickup onto which they can mount a snowplow blade, not one of them can truly control a vehicle in ice. Without serious chains and snow tires, you don’t really have a chance if you hit it and your car starts a spin, and even then, successful recovery is iffy. I know far too many people, too, who believe that “I have the biggest personal-use truck on the road, so I am immune to these dangers!” when the far better car for basic driving in snow and some icy conditions is one that is fairly wide and has a low center of gravity.

    All I can do when F250s pass me on Park going 45 in snow and ice is to shake my head and hope they only take themselves in the crash they are more likely than most to have. You folks are not invincible in these behemoths, you know?

  • joe

    Confederate Scout – “General Lee, General Lee, them Yankees is trying to attack us in mid-February, they is gonna win the war for sure!!!! What should we do sir??”

    General Lee – “Well, seeing as it’s cold and all and snowin you boys ought not be out in that weather, so we are gonna call a snow day on account of a dusting…I’ll tell General Grant to hold off the attack until it’s warmer.”

    General Grant – “BAHAHAHAHAHA STUPID REBS!!!!”

  • Joe Censored

    Minor icing around some over passes. absolutely no reason to close schools. The only accidents were people speeding across the over passes or on their cell phones. These kids cant read or write as it is and they want to cancel the day? Wimpy, Whining, bed wetting southerners need a reality check.

  • Russ

    People…use your common sense…If you don’t think it is safe to put your kid on the bus, then keep them home ….You don’t need anyone to tell you when it is safe to put your kids on the bus….Geez…

  • Lynn

    If it was so much about literacy and learning they would do something about the disruptive children in the classroom who makes it hard for other kids to learn!!!!! It’s all about money!!!!

  • Don

    Cordova mom Jennifer Carsley has the right,as all parents do and that is they make a decision to not let her child get on board a schoo l bus if she thinks the weather is too bad.
    I would think It would be a good idea if she would sent a note to the school and justify her opion.
    I only saw one incident where a car ran into one school bus, nothing would indicate there was any injuries. and it wasn’t any explanation what caused the crash. (should be a report somewhere)
    Couple of other photo’s showed other crashes that may have been caused by stupidity as are most crashes. The may have happened ice or no ice.

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