Harford County parents upset over students going to school in icy conditions

Posted at 5:05 PM, Jan 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-11 17:56:17-05

Parents lit up social media Wednesday morning, upset about Harford County School District not calling for a delay when there were icy roads.

"I was very concerned about her going out, I was very concerned about my grandson going out at 8:10 it was running late for him though too," Grandmother Peggy Beckwith said.

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Her granddaughter is a 15-year-old special needs student, and her grandson is 9-years-old. She watches them get on the bus every morning from her porch.

"I didn't even send him down the driveway because it was so icy, I made him go through the grass because I thought they're not going to fall as easy in the grass as they will on that driveway," Beckwith said.

Other parents had trouble getting to work and getting their kids to school, several accidents blocked roads in Harford County.
Complaints flooded in on ABC2's Facebook Page.
"She tried going straight, the bus went the other way, she was coming off I think 155, onto bullyrock or something and she said she went right up on the curb," Mother of two Jennifer Henderson said.
Her mother is a bus driver for Harford County schools, and said there were no kids on the bus at the time. She added her mother's bus driver friends on Facebook had the same trouble Wednesday morning.
Charlie Gischlar with the State Highway Administration said they salted the roads Tuesday night, but freezing rain washed it away. He added Carroll County and the Hereford Zone had icy conditions as well.
Harford County Public Schools issued this statement in response:

Every morning during inclement weather season, regardless of the current weather conditions, between 3:00 and 3:30 a.m. staff from the transportation department are evaluating the weather and roads all over the county. They have conversations with agencies such as AccuWeather, county officials, the Department of Public Works (DPW) and local law enforcement to collect as much information as possible.  Transportation staff are then dispatched to physically check the roads before a decision is made and disseminated to our community at approximately 5:00 a.m.

At 4:00 a.m. this morning, temperatures had reached 38 degrees and were forecasted to continue to climb. At 5:45 a.m., rather than continue that predicted climb, temperatures began to drop. While we do our best to use the information we have to determine the schedule each school day, weather is unpredictable. In this case, it began to change once the transportation department had already begun their routes at approximately 4:30 a.m. Once that process has begun, we cannot stop it for a number a reasons; our drivers were notified to reduce speeds and take extra precaution as they continued their routes.

It is not safe for us to change the school schedule as late as 5:45 a.m. Students are already at bus stops and on their way to schools. We would not be able to make them aware of the change in schedule, if one were to be deemed necessary. In addition, students would already be on buses. Those students may be returned home before a parent/guardian can make accommodations if they require supervision. These are just a few reasons why we cannot change the decision to alter the schedule once transportation has commenced. All that being said, parents/guardians make the final decision about the safety of their child. If they feel that the school system has made an incorrect call, they may keep their child home from school; if they note their child is absent due to their concern for their safety, it will be an excused absence.

There were no bus accidents reported on HCPS buses.