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Students stranded, sheltered at Fulton Schools

Parents blame school district for not releasing students earlier

One of several buses stranded in Fulton County. This one at Clubhouse Drive off Windward Parkway. Blake Annexstad via Twitter. (click for larger version)

Fulton County school bus at 5 p.m. Tuesday stuck on bumper-to-bumper traffic. Lou Hablas via Facebook. (click for larger version)

January 28, 2014
NORTH FULTON -- Good Samaritans rushed to help get children stranded on school buses on Freemanville Road, south of Providence Road in Alpharetta.

Another group of students were stuck on a school bus on Highway 9 in Milton by the Target. Employees from the Target brought food and water for the children.

All the while, streets were gridlocked, backroads blocked, cars and trucks ending up in ditches.

There were 20 very cold children on one school bus around 5 p.m., but it was unclear how many were still on the bus about 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

Another 20 students and eight staff members were stranded at Cottage School in Roswell.`

At Northwestern Middle School about 50 students, 25 staff members were stranded.

Another dozen were at Milton High School, but by the evening they had all made it home.

At about 5 p.m., Chattahoochee High School had about 150 students with principals planning to spend the night at the school.

Throughout the day parents vented their anger at the school district because of the late cancellation and late buses.

Parents on the Fulton School Facebook sounded off about the lack of leadership.

"People are upset because thousands of people are now in danger," said Carmen Gama, a parent. "Parents can choose to keep their kids home, but what about the people who work at the schools and have to commute?

The fact is every county around Fulton decided early to allow students to go home.

"Fulton should have done the same and all of these issues could have been avoided. I'm still praying for all who are not home and especially the bus drivers," she said. "The roads are horrible."

Schools in Fulton County had planned to dismiss students at their normal time, but when the snow hit the students and parents were made aware about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Fulton School officials said the weather forecast was not reliable enough Monday night or Tuesday morning to justify canceling school.

"It wasn't enough," Fulton Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa told the AJC. "It was talking about snow flurries beginning at noon and slowly building up over time, with real accumulation beginning and 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. Our thought was, 'let's look at that as it comes in,' but unfortunately it came in faster."

Area school systems have announced schools will be closed on Wednesday.

Cancellations for schools include all Fulton County, Forsyth, Atlanta, Gwinnett County, DeKalb County, Cobb County, Clayton County, Cherokee County, Douglas County, Fayette County, Henry County, Barrow County, Paulding County, city of Marietta and city of Decatur.

Suzanne Pacey and Katie VanBrackle contributed to this report

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  1. report print email
    Accept responsibility for bad decision made
    January 28, 2014 | 11:18 PM

    Weather warnings and map was very clear that the storm would hit us earlier Tuesday morning already. I was notified at 1:46 that students would be released at 1:45. All schools dismissed at the same time which is never done due to limited amount of drivers. Bless those bus drivers that are still out on the road st this time and all teachers and staff members that are spending the night with students or are still stranded. My husband had an accident going to interpret for a meeting that would have been canceled if our Superintendent would have made the right decision. After about 6 hrs on the road he is stranded for the night on Roswell Road. My Middle School kids came home at 6:30 with parents of friends. Webb Bridge Middle School staff handled the situation very well, but seemed not to have any communication from transportation. Somebody needs to take responsibility for this epic failure!

    Heidi Aybar
  2. report print email
    Terrible Decision Making
    January 29, 2014 | 03:25 AM

    What a poor excuse by the superintendent . A winter storm advisory was issued on Monday night. The safety of students and parents now at risk because they couldn't cancel school for a day. That is what snow days are for.

    Elliot Garcia
  3. report print email
    January 29, 2014 | 11:07 AM

    What the Leaders of FC schools should've factored in, but didn't, was the temperature. When you have temperatures in the 20s, any amount of snow will freeze, which is exactly what happened. They have to take that, and the fact they are dealing with different cities with different plans (or no plan in the case of Johns Creek) on how they'll deal with their roads.

    Bob Warren
    Johns Creek
  4. report print email
    Freemanville Road
    February 03, 2014 | 04:07 PM

    Freemanville Road is entirely in the City of Milton, not Alpharetta.

    Bill Preston
  5. report print email
    Freemanville Road
    February 03, 2014 | 04:07 PM

    Freemanville Road is entirely in the City of Milton, not Alpharetta.

    Bill Preston
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