Super: ‘Wouldn’t have done anything differently’
by Hannah Morgan
January 30, 2014 09:00 PM | 17991 views | 80 80 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staying After School? No Problem: Sophomore Amir Hassan gets a few hours sleep Wednesday morning after having been stranded overnight at Marietta High School because of the snow storm. (Staff/Todd Hull)
Staying After School? No Problem: Sophomore Amir Hassan gets a few hours sleep Wednesday morning after having been stranded overnight at Marietta High School because of the snow storm. (Staff/Todd Hull)
slideshow
Dr. Michael Hinojosa (MDJStaff/Laura Moon)
Dr. Michael Hinojosa (MDJStaff/Laura Moon)
slideshow
MARIETTA — As night fell across Cobb County and the snow stopped falling Tuesday, parents, students and administrators were stuck.

Thousands of parents sat gridlocked in traffic, buses were stranded on the sides of roads and hundreds of students were still at school.

Schools were forced to hold sleepovers for children, parents were told to go home rather than fight the traffic and, as of Wednesday afternoon, buses were being escorted across town by police cars and sand trucks.

At 2 p.m. Wednesday, dozens of students were still not home.

‘Couldn’t predict’ this storm’

The county’s top schools officials said they had no idea so much snow would fall, or how early it would start.

The majority of the early forecasts had predicted less than an inch, and most of the snow would hit south of the city, they said.

“It was a surprise to everybody. Nobody anticipated this coming,” said Michael Hinojosa, superintendent of Cobb Schools.

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, Hinojosa was watching the weather. He thought the snow would start falling at about 2 p.m., but it started falling earlier than he anticipated.

Some computer models reported by TV weathermen Monday night showed the storm could hit as early as 10 a.m. Tuesday, but school officials said they did not see those reports and were not told that they existed.

As schools were let out, and buses released onto the roads, Hinojosa said he kept in touch with his top administrators. By 5 p.m. Tuesday, 100,000 students were already home and another 5,000 were on their way, he said. Roughly 400 students were forced to sleep in their schools.

“We apologize. We cannot control or predict the weather, but we can control how we react to it. Thanks, bus drivers, who put their lives in danger for the kids,” Hinojosa said.

He wouldn’t have done anything differently, he added. “Everything hit at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, Hinojosa was headed home. He said he didn’t hit that much traffic, and made it to his house in Smyrna, roughly seven miles from the central office, in less than two hours.

Lembeck also caught by surprise

“It was like nothing we had ever handled before,” said Marietta Schools Superintendent Emily Lembeck.

Lembeck said she was on the phone with bus drivers, parents, teachers and staff who were scattered across the district.

“It was not the snow that caused the problem. It was the traffic, and the inability of the buses to get through,” Lembeck said. “We handled it the best way possible to keep our students safe.”

This meant she was up, at her office, all night, coordinating buses, students, parents and working with city police to try to get everybody home.

“We should not have had the chaos ensue that did, the timing was not what we thought it would be. We had the perfect storm, so to speak, that became very imperfect in the dismissal of students,” she said.

A transportation nightmare

Cobb County has 975 buses in its system, all of which were on the roads Tuesday. Nearly 80,000 students were in these buses, trying to get home, said Chris Ragsdale, Cobb’s deputy superintendent for operational support.

As these buses joined the throngs of traffic lining almost every major street in the county, Ragsdale said 40 buses got stuck.

Students in these buses were escorted to other buses, or sent to wait inside grocery stores or restaurants that were still open, he said.

Traffic was thick everywhere across the district, and not one area was worse than any other, Ragsdale said.

As parents got worried and students sat on the roads, Ragsdale didn’t stop working. The National Guard and Georgia State Patrol were called in to help buses get students home in the early hours of Wednesday.

On a normal day, Marietta High School has 30 buses moving students home, said Principal Leigh Colburn. Only one made it to the school Tuesday.

“We didn’t expect what happened. I came to work thinking games, practices would be canceled. When it started snowing, within an hour the roads became completely passable to completely gridlocked,” Colburn said. After Marietta Sixth Grade Academy and one other school closed early just after noon, 20 buses picked students up and started shuttling them home, said Thomas Algarin, a spokesman for the district.

Five of the 20 buses had to turn around and return students to school because the roads were so bad, he said.

Most of the district’s streets were in complete gridlock, and buses were stuck everywhere, including Powder Springs Street, the 120 Loop and Burnt Hickory Road.

Lembeck halted all buses from leaving the rest of the elementary, middle and high school once she saw the degree of gridlock on city streets. It was safer to have students inside, where it was warm, than out on the streets, she decided.

An announcement on Wheeler High School’s website from 9:17 p.m. Tuesday said the school was still waiting for three buses to show up.

“It’s just been frightening the extent of how bad things are,” said Angie Delvin-Brown, who had two children graduate from Wheeler.

Delvin-Brown received an email from a Wheeler teacher Wednesday morning that said some students had suffered a nine-hour bus ride home, and that the principal and many teachers were still caring for students who had spent the night.

“It’s been a nightmare,” she said.

Sleepover at MHS

When Marietta High School ninth-grader Taikayla Ramsey arrived at school Tuesday, she had no idea she would not be going home that day.

As the snow continued to fall and the traffic reports were grim, Ramsey realized she would be spending the night at school.

She used a friend’s cellphone to stay in touch with her mother, who was stuck in traffic for six hours trying to get home from work, a commute that normally takes 10 minutes.

While her mother sat anxiously in her car, Ramsey watched the movie “The Avengers” and played basketball with her friends in the gym.

At first she was scared, but once dinner was served, Ramsey said the evening turned out to be fun. She got to know many of her teachers better, and spent time with friends.

Her mother was worried sick.

“It was scary. Is she going to eat? Where is she going to sleep? Was it warm enough for her?” Lonnice Burgess, her mother, wondered.

Burgess has two children in the Marietta School System, Taikayla at Marietta High School, and a 9-year-old son at Lockheed Elementary. She is disappointed at how events played out Tuesday, and was frustrated having to sit in traffic, not knowing where her children were.

“I think the whole system was all messed up yesterday,” she said. “It was crazy.”

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, Burgess was still in her car, and got a call from Lockheed, telling her to come pick up her son. She couldn’t. She was stuck on the road.

“I didn’t know anything,” she said.

Fortunately, her son made it home. He got a ride with a neighbor, and ended up having to walk in the snow from the neighbor’s car, which got stranded, Burgess said.

“It doesn’t make sense. I think schools should have been canceled. This was poor judgment of the superintendent, to get a call saying your kids can’t come home? The next time I hear the weather is bad, I’m going to keep my kids at home,” she said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Ramsey was on a bus in traffic on her way home. After seeing her family, the first thing she planned to do was take a shower, then maybe a nap.

“I’m sitting here praying my daughter comes home safely,” Burgess said.

More than half of students spent night, ‘ate very well’

Ginger Pratt, the culinary teacher at Marietta High School, was putting a few things away in her classroom as school ended Tuesday. She had plans to go home right after school, to try to beat any traffic. There were a few students in the hallway as she was getting ready to leave, and she asked them why they hadn’t left yet.

“I had no idea how many students we had here,” Pratt said.

She walked through the school, saw more students, and immediately realized she was in for a long afternoon.

Pratt did what she knew best. She cooked. She assembled a small group of her culinary students and began preparing a meal just after 3 p.m.

The group prepared appetizers from frozen pizza on hand. They made spaghetti, meatballs, chicken sandwiches and nachos.

“They were having a blast. We all came together,” Pratt said.

As night wore on, and the kitchen was cleaned by a group of student volunteers, Pratt made her way to the band room with a number of other teachers.

More than 1,200 students remained at school after dinner, Colburn said.

People stumbled in off the streets, looking for shelter, and Colburn organized the school.

Girls would sleep in the band room, boys in the seminar room.

A parent in the band called in and told Colburn about a stash of seat cushions, which were passed out to students for pillows.

Everyone slept in their clothes. Under their jackets. On the floor.

“I haven’t slept ... I graded some quizzes. I sat on the floor against the wall outside the band room,” Pratt said.

By midnight, there were about 700 students still at school.

Parents came as they could throughout the night, and by sunrise there were about 200 students left, Colburn said.

As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, 50 students remained at Marietta High. They had been there for more than 30 hours.

By 2 p.m. Wednesday, Lembeck said 15 students were still en route home.

“Ultimately when you step back and you look at how our staff, our teachers, support staff, including board members and the community that rallied behind these schools, they did the best job possible given the situation,” Lembeck said.

Schools are closed for both Marietta City and Cobb today.

Comments
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momofastudent
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February 01, 2014
I asked my daughter and her friends, who sheltered at my house for nearly three days as I live within walking distance of the school, what happened at the school from their perspective. They said it was pure chaos. No one knew anything, there were conflicting message and announcements. She said teachers, and even the principal, did all they could, but the information kept changing, who could do what kept changing, even who could leave kept changing.

At one point they said anyone who could get telephone confirmation to walk out, could leave. The problem with that? The cell towers were down. Only text messages could get through. According to my daughter and her friends, there were at least a hundred kids in the office and atrium who lived within walking distance of the school, or who had a friend who did, trying to get phone calls to go through so they could leave. My daughter finally pointed out to an administrator that the cell towers were down, and to look around at all the kids trying to get calls to go through as proof. That's when they finally let her leave with my earlier text message as proof it was okay.

My daughter and the kids with her got to leave at long last. Some of her other friends had already managed to leave as the result of an earlier announcement that walkers (kids who USUALLY walk, not ones walking that day only) could go ahead and leave, but car and bus riders were to stay until dismissal. My daughter is usually a walker, but I'd told her I would pick her and what friends would fit in my car up, so she thought she was a car rider and stayed. I was out trying to help another friend and got stuck in the storm. I quickly realized it would be impossible for me, or the buses, to get to school, and texted my daughter and told her the buses weren't coming, to walk home. And whatever she did, if the buses DID come, not to get on them. I saw first hand how unsafe it was going to be for those children to get on the buses, if the district was foolish enough to run them, which, apparently, they were. My daughter and the group of friends with her eventually got to walk to my house. Where I made it about an hour after them by walking five miles from where I had to abandon my car after trying to help my friend.

When I did get home I got a call from another friend, her son was stuck at the school. I bundled back up and walked two more miles round trip to rescue another child. When I got to the school, I was heartbroken I could not take any more children, as my house was now completely full, I didn't even have any more floor space available. All the parents that had managed to walk in were talking multiple children with them. Even still, some had to spend the night at the school.

Eventually, I got a call from the parent of one of the children sheltering at my house. She said the bus finally did come at 9 pm, only to get stuck in front of her house on a small hill. What were those buses even still doing out? They should have been recalled hours and hours earlier. Whose decision was it to leave them out there endangering the safety of the children and the drivers? It was a clear mistake, and it's unforgivable that Dr Hinojsoa is unapologetic for his poor decisions during the entire crises. By his own admission, by his own admission, you guys, he wasn't even at work anymore when the worst of this was happening. The arrogance and gall of his carefully crafted response that blames everything but his own poor betting skills (and lets not forget he was betting with our kids, and his staff's safety in the name of one more day of instruction on the books) isn't even shocking any more. This is par for the course where he is concerned. He hales from the 'admit no mistakes, make no apologies' school of management. The facts don't support your 'we didn't know' arguement. If you truly didn't know, then you've already pointed out one of your mistakes right there. It's time to step up, Dr Hinojosa. People won't think less of you for admitting your mistakes in handling this situation, and making an honest apology.

In all this the biggest rays of light were from the administrators at the school level, teachers, and bus drivers. When I made it up to the school, the office staff was harried, but still cheerful. They were doing all they could, even though they knew as well as anyone what a chaotic mess was happening around them. The teachers worked over time to help their kids feel safe and comfortable, especially the ones that had to stay over with the children stuck over night. The bus drivers, who surely felt as frustrated and angry as I did that they were forced out into an unsafe situation, worked valiantly in impossible conditions. To those individuals, I can't give enough thanks.
melanieb.
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February 01, 2014
He stated they did not know the severity of the storm? They did not know it was coming? REALLY?? What channel does he or his administration watch? He and he alone needs to take responsibility for not closing the Cobb schools. Children and staff should have not been left @ the schools. Bus drivers should have taken 1 child on the road. It was all bout the $$ the federal $$. Have to stay in school till 11 in order to be counted, then by law you have to feed the kids before releasing them. Putting those children & the staff in harms way is maddening. What ever happened to the safety of the child first & not the $$?
Mike In Smyrna
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February 01, 2014
Dr. Hinojosa went home mid-afternoon! That is chicken feces. Dr. Hinojosa should be fired. No command center at the BoE?

Last week there was an article in the MDJ were Dr. Hinojosa requested salary increases for his top lieutenants. Where were they during this fiasco?

God forbid – If a school took a direct hit from tornado, is there a response plan in place?

Hwy 57
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February 01, 2014
I bet the walrus is back in Texas for the weekend that's why he put old JAY Out to talk to the reporters!!!! Come on walrus MAN UP!!!!!!
In the Trenches
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February 01, 2014
To "Lucy Williams" & "don'trewritehistory"- I most definitely can pronounce Dr. Hinojosa's name. I have lived in Cobb county all my life. I attended CC schools and Marietta schools. I don't remember missing to vote in ANY election. You can vote on a candidate that says the right things, but once they are in office their head swells & their brain is squeezed. I definitely have a right to voice my disapproval.

Ramblin Red is 100% correct. The CCDS, Marietta SD and ALL the other metro school systems started this domino affect of this fiasco. All the supers gambled & went for the state funds since they had already missed Jan. 7th & 8th.

Ramblin's suggestion for businesses, especially the mega corporations, to have a policy of telling their employees with laptops to stay home & work is smart & just common sense. They could have worked their 8 hr shift, but instead they sat in traffic for hours and missed working. That was real smart & frugal! But many of them do not want to give their employees ANY slack because the manager wants to look tough & frugal. Well, I hope they are happy because their decisions did nothing to help the bottom line or their employees' attitude.

As for those who say adults should have stayed home also. I and many other people would have been fired if we had phoned into our managers and said we were not coming into work.

Why is it the working person knows what should be done, but once that person becomes a manager, director, VP, Superintendent, or CEO they loose all compassion and common sense? Could it be money is all that matters?
Watcher...
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February 01, 2014
I wonder how much advice was given to Hinojosa' by his "crack," elite, high ranking Cabinet.
ECobbparent/teacher
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February 01, 2014
Well this just proves that Hinojosa does not care about his staff or our students! He has visited my school and I have had him come in my classroom and have known several other teachers and staff that have "met" him. Never once have I heard anything good and for the most part, he seemed disinterested! Facts and not people is what he is interested in so it seems - not a good leader.

As to Tuesday, I had watched the weather reports and knew before I left for work that we were under a warning by the weather service. I left for work knowing I shouldn't go but also knowing I couldn't leave my students without a teacher. There was no option for me and surely our leadership would do something quickly!

There were numerous weather stations, etc. predicting the snow/ice but it was ignored and CCSD went on with their Principals meeting at KSU while we teachers and staff were left to ourselves. From what I understand, CCSD knew by 9:30am that we were dismissing early so there was really no reason for us to be there at all as nothing got accomplished that day as all morning our parents were already contacting us teachers by way of email. Our clerical staff scrambled to answer phone calls and relay messages to staff and students as to their transportation all morning so I know it was a wasted day for them as well.

It shouldn't have mattered what "everyone else" was doing. Our leaders should have looked as to what was best for our students and staff. They get paid enough and have enough education and have had enough leadership mumbo jumbo to know that a leader leads and not follows what everyone else is doing - AND HEAVEN HELP US CCSD LEADERS HAVE ENOUGH TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES & PLENTY OF DEPARTMENTS THAT SOMEONE IN LEADERSHIP SHOULD HAVE SAID - NOOOOOOO!!!

Here's the thing Mr. Hinojosa, the amount of snow didn't matter. Do you and others not get that yet? It was the fact that the temperature was so low and had been so low that our roads temperatures were frozen. When snow fell and the heat from even one car tire melted it and it re-froze, guess what? Ice!!! It doesn't take a genius to figure this out - it didn't matter if everyone in Atlanta dismissed early, some of those buses didn't make it to their destination simply because of the ice - you did that Mr. Hinojosa aka let's wait this out and push the envelope with our students and staff safety! I repeat, we were under a "WARNING"!!!

CCSD has some of the best technology around and has many departments, including transportation and public safety, etc. Why don't some of these people who direct these offices and get paid big bucks communicate or step out of their "yes" comfort zone and confront or advise the big man himself when they see potential situations like this that could occur? Do they not have phones or emails or do they have to wait to schedule a meeting to confer about such emergency situations?

Angry? Yes, our students lives were at high risk. AND Mr. Hinojosa should have stayed or gone back to his office to see what was happening. I wonder what time he went to bed or if he laid restless Tuesday night worrying about his district employees and our Cobb students. From what I have heard, a lot of buses didn't even get to the middle schools to pick up those students until very late Tuesday night!!!! What time exactly did they all get home or off of those buses? Were they cold? Did those buses still have sufficient heat and gas? When was the last student rescued from a bus? AND Mr. Hinojosa, WHAT time did our bus drivers get home? Were any of them in wrecks? I have a neighbor that is a CCSD bus driver and from what I have heard from him, it was way beyond ridiculous what those drivers suffered. How dare you go home or go home and not go back!!! Like I said at the beginning of this rant, you never have seemed to care about the people of Cobb, you have just proven that to everyone in Cobb County!

Anyone concerned about their employees/students or even their own family, would be looking at several tv/radio stations AND those with such huge responsibilities should be concerned enough to seek out advice and input as to safety and the details of what needs to be done. Mr. Hinojosa you should have gotten in there and rolled up your sleeves and worked to help your staff and students! How arrogant of you to go home!

Maybe you and a few other so called leaders should have to go sit in your cars outside in freezing temperatures or perhaps maybe you should suppose one of your children or grandchildren had to endure what some of these students on buses had to endure. Perhaps that is how you should gauge some of your decisions.

I hope you HAVE to listen to stories from students, parents and bus drivers about what they went through!!! This should have never have happened. It did bring out the good and great qualities in a lot of people with the exception of one that we know about - Hinojosa!

I have been seeing "bus drivers needed" on a school marquee that I pass by on my way to work -good luck with that Mr. Hinojosa; just no wonder that you are in "need" of bus drivers!
danger ranger
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February 02, 2014
Seems that Rick Grisham at the Transportation Department needs to have someone i.e. another grand jury, take a look at his practices. Too bad parents only notice the dangers when there's severe weather,flood or ice. How about the every day? Do we want people with such poor judgement over our bus drivers? They are held hostage to the poor leadership.
Plainoleme
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January 31, 2014
In each school and office of the CCSD there is a weather monitor. Connected to the real radar not what most see on T.V. so a surprise excuse does not cut it. It was all about getting in that day. We have damaged properties that are going to cost the school system i.e. taxpayers a lot of money.
No we don't
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February 01, 2014
We do not have a weather monitor in the school where I work. Nor do we have the weather channel. We USED to - but am assuming it went away due to all of the budget cuts....

HELP, CCSD is sinking fast!!!!!
Lucy S. Williams
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January 31, 2014
You can tell by all of these comments which school system has happier employees...no one is throwing Lembeck under the bus. You all need to get lives and if you hate Cobb Schools and Hinojosa SOOO much, then elect new board members, and/or go live/work somewhere else. I bet 80 percent of you can't even pronounce Dr. Hinojosa's name correctly!
Cobb Lifer
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February 01, 2014
Lucy Williams- I can pronounce super Hinojosa's name- Hi-NO-Ho-Sa. Also, I was in Cobb County over 50 yrs before super Hinojosa ever arrived and I have NO intention of leaving. In fact, I have never been in any other county. Also, I have voted in probably every election for CCSD Board members, but interestingly once many of them takes office, they seem to loose any intelligence or common sense. They chose Hinojosa, NOT me or any other citizen.

Finally Lucy Williams, there are many, many of us Cobb citizens who are very well informed & educated. We want to improve the education of our children and keep Cobb county a wonderful place to live & work, but a few people with power, especially those who are elected & those who are wealthy, can thwart the throngs of citizens.

My suggestion is for the citizens to attend school Board & Cobb county gov't meetings in MASS and to march in MASS every Saturday. Just 5-50 people at a meeting doesn't hack it. Marches with 100s of people worked for integration and the Viet Nam protestors, it should work for us.
I can
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February 01, 2014
The phonetical pronunciation is: Hes-at-homa.
Stating the Truth
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January 31, 2014
I am disgusted that this man decided it was OK to drive past TWO schools on his way home. So glad you made it safely home, MR. H! BUT what about your STAFF???? YOUR ADMINS and YOUR TEACHERS and YOUR BUS DRIVERS and YOUR STUDENTS that did not make it home in a "timely manner"? WHERE WERE YOU? OH...that is right....Sitting in a nice, warm house! DISGUSTED is an understatement! Your resignation is wanted!!!!!!!!
RamblinRed
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January 31, 2014
What amazes me is most of the mess of Tuesday and Wednesday could have been avoided if 2 simple policies were in place.

#1. If there is a winter storm warning in effect by 5 am the school system (and this should apply to any in metro Atlanta) is required to cancel classes for the day.

This would have kept the kids safe and would have kept both buses and alot of parents cars off the road. It also would have alleviated the en masse departure as the departures that caused the traffic jams actually occurred before it was even snowing in downtown Atlanta. Most employees left once they found out their kids were going to be out early. Traffic maps showed all highways out of Atlanta were red by 12:30, when the first flakes started falling in town and long before the roads froze.

#2 for any business and governmental agency. If a winter weather warning is in effect by 5 am any employee that is capable of working from home must stay home. All non-essential governmental employees also would be required to stay home.

This would have kept another swath of cars off the road.

Not knowing the weather forecast is pure negligence. That is part of their job. I got up at 5 am to check the weather to decide whether I would go into work. The winter weather warning was issued at 3:38 am. It said 1-2 inches of snow and said travel would be treacherous, don't travel unless absolutely necessary. That is all the CCSD should have needed to see to make a decision.

Also, by that morning all the hourly models had snow falling in Cobb county before noon. Not knowing that is not an excuse. All you had to do was get on a computer for 60 seconds.

CCSD choose to have the dismissal be at 12:30 because it allowed them to count it as a full day. I heard that from multiple teachers I know. That is willfully putting the students and employees in harms way.

irked
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January 31, 2014
It goes way beyond students and employees. This decision impacted EVERYONE in Cobb, not just those with children in school - even those that did the right thing and stayed home.

The scale of the impact is monumental.

One man's decision.

A man that made an irresponsible decision, then went home to let others deal with it.

In light of that, I guess "man" is not the right word to use.
anonymous
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February 01, 2014
for them to say they did not hear the news it was a 100% chance and start at 9-10AM, shows the ineptness within the leadership at Cobb schools. Hinojosa needs to go with Ragsdale right behind
Cobb Voter
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January 31, 2014
As has already been pointed out, anyone listening to the National Weather Service (whose prediction was accurate) would have known to call off school in the early hours. Dr. Hinojosa is dead wrong and, of course, he didn't suffer as a result nor did he admit it. We elect his bosses, though, and I'm not going to forget.
Michelle Sollicito
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January 31, 2014
I think it is really easy to criticize with hindsight, but on Tuesday morning I saw lots of people posting complaints that the CCSD was even considering closing schools early because of a "little bit of snow". If they had closed the schools all day Tuesday many might now be criticizing them for being overly-cautious and causing businesses to lose money etc. because people had to stay home with their kids. It is very tough to be in their position. What I think we should concentrate on is PRAISING teachers and bus drivers for the AMAZING job they did ensuring kids got to somewhere safe. Let's remember this when it comes to deciding whether or not we can afford a Millage Rate rise to 20% to pay them back the money taken away from them over recent years in pay decreases and furlough days!!
banto
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January 31, 2014
You actually think "avoiding embarassment" is a legitimate reason to cause this disaster?

I suggest you examine your priorities.
RVA
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January 31, 2014
This is just another example of how Hinojosa has diluted the cherished image of Cobb county schools. I moved back to Cobb to start a family after going off to college. Having graduated from Cobb schools I knew that they were better than most private schools. They still are great but one decision after another shows how quickly poor decisions and leadership can cause that to change. Schools should have been closed on Tuesday. Instead we get about 30 minutes advance notice that we have to hop in our cars to beat the school busses home. There is no excuse for not cancelling school. I kept my kids home and will deal with the unexcused absence. "It was a surprise" Mr. Hinojosa? Really? With all the budget that you control you can't get access to CNN, the Weather Channel or even the local channels? You lost all credibility with me on that and it sets the tone for your leadership so far. Case in point-I want to save money where I can and would like my government to do so as well. But just ask the people who send their kids to private school because they live in the city of Atlanta, we don't need the quality of our schools to go down or people will move away. If people move away property tax revenues will decrease, if property tax revenues decrease, the educational system will crumble. So yes, save money by making good leadership decisions, but don't try to combine elementary schools (East Valley and Sedalia Park), reduce the number of teachers per student, etc. Hell, give the teachers a raise because they are the reason we all live here. I don't think any parent moves to Cobb because we have a great school board/superintendent. We do so because of the schools. The schools = teachers and principals. In addition to making a poor decision that caused traffic to worsen, you endangered the lives of our students and teachers.
Renee3333
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January 31, 2014
Dr. Hinojosa's arrogance is amazing and distressing. It is unbelievable to me that he was at home, while students, teachers and bus drivers were stranded. Poor leadership does not even begin to describe how he dropped the ball on Tuesday and then he will not even apologize...wow! That says a lot about his character and integrity..or lack there of. I, for one, will never again rely on any government bureaucrat to tell me when I need to keep my child home. I will always listen to my intuition.
Disbelief Too
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January 31, 2014
HE WENT HOME. To me, that is the straw that should break the camels back. If he did not know by mid-afternoon that there were problems....big ones....then he has his head in the sand and should not be at the helm in Cobb County. WHY - when I, and everyone else but officials it seems, saw the winter storm WARNING issued in the wee hours with up to 2 INCHES predicted to start by or before 11 AM would you risk the lives of students and bus drivers by sending them to school???????? If he does not know what happens around here when snow falls on our warm ground (immediate melting and freezing) then his staff should have told him in no uncertain terms. And now he has the audacity to accept no responsibility for endangering precious lives and no repentance for having bailed out to his cozy home and bragging about his two hour commute....... I don't know how the School Board can work with this man any longer.
no way
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January 31, 2014
From Marietta to Smyrna in "less than two hours?"

I don't believe that for a second.
don'trewritehistory
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January 31, 2014
Wow, uninformed and self-righteous is a bad combination, and there is so much of it in these comments. I work in the Cobb central office (the one up the street from the main office) and didn't leave Tuesday until after 5:00 p.m. I stopped by the main building on my way out and Dr. Hinojosa was still there when I left, along with a bunch of other people. I imagine he was one of the last CEO's in metro Atlanta to leave his office that day. Chris Ragsdale spent the night, and most of the day Wednesday, at the central office making sure kids got home safely.

As for the commenters' criticism of Dr. Hinojosa's and every other superintendent's call to hold school Tuesday, your 20/20 hindsight is truly impressive. Where were you Tuesday morning?!!! The fact is, about 5.5 million people got up Tuesday morning and either went to work or went to school. That's right. The whole city of Atlanta got up and went about their normal daily routines. Why? Because there was absolutely no warning whatsoever of what was to come. So, the National Weather Service upgraded their forecast to a warning at 3:30 a.m.? That's great. Thanks for all the advance notice. They still weren't predicting snow until the afternoon. Mr. cantfixstupid below ought to know that at 9:00 a.m. that morning my Weather Channel phone app was still showing the snow wouldn't even begin until noon. It was already snowing hard in north Cobb.

Cobb made the decision to close two hours early, and was the first school system in metro Atlanta to do anything at all. Of course, no one anticipated the extent of the traffic mess that occurred early afternoon. That's certainly a lesson learned. But no one seems to even be aware that thanks to the two-hour early dismissal, CCSD was able to transport more than 80,000 kids safely home that afternoon. Only about 320 students ended up staying overnight at schools, a far smaller number than in most neighboring school systems.

I understand the need to vent over an unfortunate situation, and there are truly lessons to be learned here, but let's not change the facts of what actually occurred in order to assign self-righteous blame.
TeachCobb42
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January 31, 2014
If they were predicting snow later on in the day, then why do I have a screenshot from my AccuWeather app stating that the snow would begin at 9:00 in the morning?

"Only about 320 students ended up staying overnight?" Your goal should've been none. Cobb didn't transport kids home just that afternoon - some were on the bus in excess of five hours, and some did not arrive home until after midnight.

Go on and keep patting yourselves on the back. Nice to know that the culture of non-culpability is alive and well with more folks at the central office than just the superintendent.

I went into work that day because I trusted the people in charge to call school in a timely manner, not try to force in five hours to get that full day of instruction. I will never make that mistake again. I would gladly take ten short term leave days than abandon my car on the side of the road and take an eight hour drive home with a stranger.

And, finally, if you read the article, it plainly states that Hinojosa left early. Apparently he told that to the MDJ, but keep on covering your boss' rear.
Cares4Cobb
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January 31, 2014
We know the MDJ doesn't always get it right, but in the article they did state "By mid-afternoon Tuesday, Hinojosa was headed home. He said he didn’t hit that much traffic, and made it to his house in Smyrna, roughly seven miles from the central office, in less than two hours". Well, we know he didn't go home and then return? And we know that you could not get there in two hours if you left the Central Office after 5 p.m. Tuesday night!

puttingkidsatrisk
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January 31, 2014
Hey Mr. CCSD employee, maybe you can enlighten us on why Dr. H didn't listen to the weather reports and realize that by letting out kids in this district several hours early, rather than keep them home in the first place, a hardship would be placed on parents trying to get home to their kids. Hinojosa is more concerned with making his $20,000 per speech and traveling the country on his "reputation" (of which I am not impressed). It is time that the board does something, can't believe they renewed his contract. I'm sure our new board member who is a smart woman with a ton of integrity will finally have what she needs to get rid of him.. He does Cobb Co no good, and this was proof of it. Where was he when the media wanted interviews with all the school superintendents? What does he get paid to do?

Really Jay D?
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January 31, 2014
Jay Dillon is this the best spin you can do??? Really?
another lie?
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January 31, 2014
What is wrong with you front office people?

You actually are contradicting what Hinojosa himself said?

Where "we" were Tuesday morning is none of your concern.

Your mission was to keep kids safe.

What you did placed not only them in great danger, but their parents and the entire community.

Your failure of that mission cost Cobb MILLIONS.

If I were you, I'd start putting out resumes. This type of arrogance no longer will be tolerated.

Remember ---- WE pay your salary.
Cobb Mom of 2
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February 01, 2014
I don't for a moment believe that you left your office at 5pm and then STOPPED by Hinojosa's office on your way home.
Bob Johnson
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January 31, 2014
How does he still have a job? His 15 minutes are over. I sure hope the Board reads his replacements resume this time.
CCSD Spouse
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January 31, 2014
Hinojosa, can not believe that you left went home to a warm dry place with I'm sure plenty of food while all the bus drivers/monitors, custodians, maint. personnel, teachers and students were still unaccounted for and on the roads. Do you realize how many of your employees were out there risking their lives to get to a safe location? Do you know how many of the maint. personnel were stuck and not able to reach a location to secure their work trucks and for fear of vandalism stayed with these vehicles to make sure they were safe? Do you realize how many where not able to get home and stayed in schools so that they were able to keep warm even though there was no one else there and no food available to them? I applaud all the staff that were stranded, they proved that under an extreme emergency they can and will do what they need to weather the storm. And how do these employees get rewarded by furloughs and cuts in pay. Wow must be nice to be well appreciated.
CCSD driver friend
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January 31, 2014
Dr. Hinojosa: A good Captain goes down with his ship. As a 'leader", shouldn't you have done the same? Enough said...
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