Parents Express Frustration with SPPS Action after Snowstorm Delays Buses, Strands Kids

January 23, 2018 12:22 PM

The apology St. Paul Public Schools officials issued to families after buses were delayed hours due to the snowstorm that hit the Twin Cities Monday wasn't enough for some parents.

UPDATE: St. Paul Schools Superintendent Apologizes for Kids Arriving Home Late After Snowstorm


More than 9 inches of snow had fallen at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by 8 p.m. in what amounted to the biggest snowstorm in two years.

As a result, some St. Paul schoolchildren were still on buses or at a handful of public schools as late as 11 p.m.

St. Paul mayor Melvin Carter and superintendent Joe Gothard are scheduled to make statements on Monday's weather events and field questions during a press conference scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday at the district headquarters, located at 360 Colborne Street. plans to carry the press conference live. 

One bus Monday, KSTP learned, was stuck for more than an hour and 45 minutes.

RELATED: Bus Delays Leave Many Kids Stranded at St. Paul Schools After Storm

St. Paul police said eventually, about a dozen officers shuttled roughly 30 elementary-aged children to their homes, after it became clear buses weren't viable modes of transportation.

St. Paul Police spokesperson Mike Ernster said, "This was a very long night. We’re talking about anywhere from 5 p.m. to our last call was right before 11 p.m."

He added, "Even though it looked like possibly nothing was being done about this, it was very hard to move around last night, just because the sheer number of cars stuck on the road last night, and nobody could get anywhere."

The department has Ford Explorers with all-wheel drive, Ernester said, "so they were able to make their way through these neighborhoods pretty easily and be able to grab these kids and also respond to emergency cars when needed without a problem."

On its website, SPPS stated, "The decision to keep the district open today, Jan. 22, was based on the forecast and what we believed was the best course of action for our students. Had we known that the city of St. Paul was going to get up to 8 inches of snow between 2 and 6 p.m., SPPS may have taken a different course of action."

However, many parents expressed their frustration and concern via social media and in emails and calls to the KSTP newsroom.

A post on the district's Facebook page, which had more than 160 "likes" as of Tuesday morning, stated,  "'Had we known...' Are you even serious? Every forecast in the region was clear. The stress and strain you put on families and the children you put in danger when you put them on the roads tonight was absolutely unacceptable. Take responsibility. This was nothing short of very poor planning. Not only did you have a pretty clear radar as early as yesterday, you had enough snow by noon to know what the afternoon would look like. On the other hand, the teachers, aides, students, and parents went above and beyond as usual."

Another post on the district's Facebook page stated, in part, "Absolutely unacceptable does not even begin to describe what happened here. I trust that every single senior member of this school district is still in their seats at their desks and will remain so until every last student is home safely, which I understand the police are currently working on."

Others voiced making the decision to pick up their children early or keep them home from school as inclement weather kicked in.

"Parents have to be proactive as well," one person wrote on the district's Facebook page. "If I had school-aged kids and were aware of the forecast, I wouldn't have sent them to school. Or, I would've arranged to pick them up early. I don't need the school board to make that decision for me. I do hope everyone made it home safely, nonetheless."

Another wrote, "Everyone is complaining but you dropped your kid off or took them to the bus stop. At the end of the day you're the parent you decide if it's safe or not. My kids stayed home."

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul public school districts announced schools would be closed Tuesday.


Rebecca Omastiak

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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