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Snow jam leads to serious traffic jams after schools announce early dismissal

Parents blast school leaders for late decisions as students get stranded at schools

Buddy Dean via Twitter. (click for larger version)
January 28, 2014
NORTH FULTON, Ga. -- The snow had barely begun sticking to roads and sidewalks when parents took to social media sites to heap criticism on the Fulton County School System for not dismissing students early ahead of Tuesday's snowstorm.

"How can you say students come first when you put the safety of students in danger," tweeted a Milton High School student. He joined thousands of other Twitter and Facebook users who took to the airwaves to blast the school system for not calling for early dismissal until mid afternoon.

While most systems across the region, including Forsyth, Cherokee and Cobb, posted early dismissal notices before noon, Fulton County Schools waited until nearly 2 p.m. to make the decision (for a 1:45 p.m. dismissal).

Parents questioned the delay since the snow had been predicted for days and Fulton County had been under a winter storm watch since the previous evening.

By 2 p.m. when the early dismissal was announced, gridlock was already in place. Parents had been checking their kids out of school since the snow began falling before noon, creating traffic nightmares near most schools. At 4 p.m., hundreds of students were still waiting on buses to get home. Fulton's transportation fleet relies on staggered dismissal times since most buses run at least two routes.

Reports of traffic jams along Georgia 400 and most of the main arteries in North Fulton were abundant, caused not only by school traffic but businesses closing early as well. Before 1 p.m., area police departments had stopped responding to minor traffic accidents, and had put out alerts to remain off the roadways.

School officials could not be contacted for comment on why it took so long for the early dismissal notice, but posted on the Facebook page that "the weather pattern has come in faster than initially forecasted."

The message included statement that "student safety is our priority"; a claim that many parents apparent took issue with.

"Student safety is your priority? Are you kidding me? You have hundreds of parents out on terrible roads heading to schools and you give five minutes' notice?" posted an angry parent.

More than 500 comments, the vast majority negative, were posted to the school system's Facebook over a two hour window surrounding the early dismissal posting. Many were still waiting for the kids to get home.

"My three middle schoolers are still stuck at school and my hIgh schooler had to abandon his car after an hour and a half and walk the rest of the way home," posted one upset parent. " You guys missed this one completely. I also only got the call at 1:43 p.m.. I'm wondering when my kids will get home as I look at the snow continuing to pile up outside?"

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Tags: Education News & School Sports, Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    snow jam
    January 28, 2014 | 05:42 PM

    funny, How could parents blame the school system when they knew ahead of time the weather was coming even before they sent there kids to school.Clearly I seen the report. So do you put your child first? if so you should have kept your child at home.

    m. charlene colton
    2052 dewberry lane
  2. report print email
    Fulton county school
    January 28, 2014 | 07:47 PM

    I am a very concerned parent from Illinois where 2 inches of snow is child's play. I am in awe that this has shut down the city and I naively thought the schools would close early if needed. From a one vehicle family I could not pick my child up until 730 and I am still stuck in traffic right now. Yes the district should have had the foresight to close for the day knowing Atlantas inability to handle an inch of snow. So please save your judgements Ms Colton.

  3. report print email
    snow jam-idiotic
    January 28, 2014 | 09:47 PM

    M.Charlene're an idiot. Not only do we entrust our public school officials to educate our children (and therefore send them to school when it is open know..learn something), but we expect them to keep them out of harm's way.

    Maybe you like to keep your children home on a whim when it is inconvenient for you, but the majority of parents with a clue do not.

    I'm guessing the M. stands for Moron?

    P.J. McGowan
    Johns Creek
  4. report print email
    I agree with the idiot
    January 29, 2014 | 04:03 AM

    Common sense has to prevail. Parents should not allow the school to decide for them is the weather is too dangerous. School is for receiving an education. That's all. They can't do all the decision making and thinking.

    S shealey
  5. report print email
    January 29, 2014 | 09:26 AM

    I will never send my kids to school again when you can see a storm brewing at 5:30 am. Took 11 hours to pick up my child from FSA in Roswell. My husband hiked 5 miles so he could drive. Lots of husbands rescued their wives. And so many people walking who had abandoned their cars. Atlanta needs to learn to read weather maps!! AND put our children FIRST!!

    Marie Dean
    Johns Creek
  6. report print email
    How Georgians Respond to Winter Weather
    January 29, 2014 | 10:17 AM

    During the winter of 1994 my husband and I attempted to drive through Atlanta on a cross-country trip. We became stranded here during a series of January/February icy cold storms, and 20 years later we are still here. In those 20 years I have learned two very important lessons:

    Lesson #1 - ice/snow, and our response to it, is different here. when weather like this is predicted, schools/businesses should close and all non-essential personnel should stay off the roadways. that is simply the way it is, and for those who do not understand...

    Lesson #2 - Delta flies both ways.

    The next time similar weather is predicted, as for me and mine, we will stay home (after the obligatory quick trip to Publix for groceries, of course). If schools/employers haven't learned from snowjam, snowmageddon, and whatever the blazes they'll be calling this one, rest assured we have. Never again.

    With all due respect to those unfortunate enough to not live in the South, and to our elected officials and decision makers who care more about what Northerners think than the safety of those they are sworn to protect, Bless Your Ever Lovin' Hearts Sweeties.

    Maryann Malena
  7. report print email
    Snow Storm Reports, Johns Creek.
    January 29, 2014 | 10:43 AM

    Thanks for this report. Personally, I am disappointed that the Johns Creek Municipal web page has yet to post any status reports on the situation in the city (as of 1/29, 10:45am).

    Marshall Robert
    Johns Creek
  8. report print email
    The Day Georgia Stood Still
    January 29, 2014 | 02:01 PM

    Unreal. We came to Alpharetta in '94 I've never seen anything like it. Sure we've had snow days and ice storms, but logistically this was a cluster-****. It took me 3 hours to get from my office to my folks place. This is appx 1 mile from Westside by Village Tavern to Academy near the Fire Station. Traditionally I could have gone to Birmingham and then some in that time.

    I dropped the car there and walked home from Academy to Windward near Tara Humata. It would have taken me an additional 4-5 hours driving - the walk was 1 hour. I played the 'Christmas' station on Pandora on the walk home. I walked home in boat shoes (which held up surprising well) and Dockers. Props to North Face gear for keeping me warm! Hopefully everyone got home safely. Thanks to our local officials for their efforts. I saw a lot of responders sweeping the steets later in the evening offering helping hands.

  9. report print email
    Deal's plan
    January 29, 2014 | 06:05 PM

    Oh, so Gov. Deal had a plan.

    His plan is - Let's have everybody stay home or stay stranded in their car for 3 days until the sun fixes everything on Thursday.

    Good plan, Nr, Deal - NOT!

    Johns Creek
  10. report print email
    Deal's Plan
    January 29, 2014 | 06:55 PM

    Deal's plan is called "solar plowing" and it only works if the schools/businesses close and the roads are empty before the snow begins to fall. Obviously, in a metro area of this size, "solar plowing" is not a viable option.

    Maybe it is time the state, and metro Atlanta's cities and counties, invest in some real snow plows and ship the solar ones further south.

    Maryann Malena
  11. report print email
    Think about it
    January 29, 2014 | 07:57 PM

    S Shealey, "school is for receiving an education, that is all"... Huh?

    Our children are in the care of the schools for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. We are asked to trust the schools with our children's safety. None of us wants to be THAT parent; the one who completely overreacts, but this situation makes us question the judgement of the schools. Are you suggesting that the thousands of children in Atlanta schools should have all been checked out before school was cancelled at 1:45? Schools are charged with educating our children and keeping them safe in the process. What they did was put every child in harm's way, whether they were stuck on a bus or with a parent on the dangerous roads.

    L M
  12. report print email
    Johns Creek Website
    January 29, 2014 | 09:23 PM

    I went back and forth with the Johns Creek PD via their Facebook page. Thanks to them, there is now information on the City of Johns Creek website.

    I hope to be able to attend a City Council Meeting soon to ask Our city officials where they were during this, why they waited until 3pm to open their emergency management center, and what are they going to do differently next time around. Incidentally, one person with the city said that a Sandy Springs vehicle was sanding Brumbelow. Guessing we either don't have enough equipment or the trucks were sanding roads of all of Mayor Bodker's big supporters.

    Bob Warren
    Johns Creek
  13. report print email
    South Johns Creek
    January 30, 2014 | 10:32 AM

    I was out yesterday PM in my 4WD. Clearly, Alpharetta had done a superb job of salting/sanding their streets, particularly the major intersections and hill inclines.

    Here in South Johns Creek, Waters Rd. is still a disaster, Nesbit Ferry is a glaze of ice, Barnwell--ice--and no a sand/salt. Barnwell at Holcomb Br. was impassible.

    I didnt get up near the Mayor's house, but my guess the roads were well done in that area. At least we could take comfort that SOMETHING was being done in Johns Creek.

    But--I didn't see ANY result from Johns Creek's efforts in South JOhns Creek.

    Just Mean & Nasty
    Johns Creek
  14. report print email
    Snow Turns to ICE
    January 30, 2014 | 06:42 PM

    "Two inches" of snow did not paralyze the South.

    In the South, when snow hits our warm ground, it turns to liquid. Then it freezes as the temps drop.

    It's called "Black Ice". It's slippery.

    Johns Creek
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