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Anne Arundel Co. Explains Decision To Open Schools On Time

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ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) –Officials with Anne Arundel County Public Schools are explaining the decision to open schools on time Friday, despite freezing rain in the forecast.

Mike Hellgren has more on the school system’s controversial decision.

Howard County, Baltimore County and Baltimore City all opened on a delayed basis, but that did not happen in Anne Arundel County. That decision is not sitting well with some.

Ice made a mess of roads across Anne Arundel County on Friday morning, causing more than 70 accidents–from a major accident that caused a backup on Rowe Blvd. in Annapolis to a 12-car pileup at the B/W Parkway.

The decision not to delay school drew strong reaction from parents and students.

A bus crashed on the way to South River High School.

“It was pretty crazy. Coming to school you see three or four accidents,” said Anthony Vongohran, high school student.

“You would see cars skid  . . . there’s big blocks of ice,” said Robert Crosby, high school student.

Among the hundreds of outraged comments on the school system’s Facebook page:

“Your decision was unreasonable and irresponsible. In the future, maybe taking a look at a WEATHER FORECAST and the TEMPERATURE could become a part of your decision-making process,” wrote Scott Reynolds.

“What is this school system trying to prove?” someone else wrote.

“Do you mean to tell me that AA County has no better system than to send our children in harm’s way?” another person wrote.

“You blew it! Simple as that,” wrote John Bell.

“Certainly we regret the way things turned out. Nobody wants to have parents and employees and students in harm’s way,” said Bob Mosier, Anne Arundel County Schools spokesman.

Mosier says administrators made the decision after looking at road conditions between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. when roads were clear. But just about an hour later, it started to get icy. But by then it was too late.

“That all occurs at the worst possible time. By that point, we’ve got buses on the roads picking up kids already. Our high school kids are at the bus stop by 6 o’clock,” Mosier said.

Despite several accidents involving school buses and multi-car crashes, there were no serious injuries.

“They probably should’ve delayed it just so everybody’s safe. You don’t want kids to get hurt,” said Leon Medura, of Pasadena.

School administrators are evaluating this decision to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.

“Certainly, roads were treacherous this morning. If we can go back and make it different, we certainly would,” Mosier said.

If students were late Friday morning or did not come in because of the weather, those are excused.

Superintendent Mamie J. Perkins Saturday apologized for the decision Friday morning that resulted in thousands of students and school system employees braving dangerous conditions to get to school on time. In a letter emailed to parents and posted on the school system’s website and Facebook and Twitter pages, Perkins promised a thorough examination of the process to identify improvements that can be made.

“We made the wrong call,” Mrs. Perkins wrote in the letter. “The ultimate call is our school system’s and our school system’s alone. It is made by a group of human beings who truly are working hard and doing their level best to make correct decisions. We as a system are not perfect, and we should not be afraid to admit when we err. In this case, we clearly could have done better.”

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