Many Unhappy With SCS Decision To Stay Open

(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.


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