Parents scold Cobb school officials over storm response
by Hannah Morgan
February 05, 2014 04:00 AM | 5906 views | 8 8 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Three angry mothers scolded Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa at a board meeting Monday night for what they believe was his mishandling of last Tuesday’s snowstorm.

The storm left their children on a bus for more than six hours.

“From the very beginning, it was a domino of errors, a recipe for a disaster,” said Lisa Morchower, who has a child at Pebblebrook High School’s magnet program.

At 4:30 p.m. the day of the storm, Morchower received a text from her child saying she was on a bus heading to their east Cobb home.

By 10 p.m. that night, Morchower’s daughter was still not home.

Neither was Susan Niemayer’s child, who also attends Pebblebrook.

“My issue is, I’m sorry Mr. Superintendent, but the reports that you left early while our kids, your employees were still out there trying to get our kids home safe. I see your position as captain of the ship. Captain is the last person to get off the ship after his employees have been brought home safely, after his crew, the kids, are brought home safely, and that was not the case,” Niemayer said.

She chastised Hinojosa, who has said he left his office after 5 p.m. and made it home in about two hours Tuesday night.

“While you were home, kids were on the bus urinating in water bottles, urinating in bags, urinating on themselves because they had no facilities to do it. As captain of the ship you should have been here to the very end to make sure that all your employees were home safely because our kids deserve better, your employees deserve better and we deserve better,” Niemayer said.

Morchower and Niemayer want a policy put into place immediately to handle the next weather disaster.

“The school district needs a policy for dealing with the problems that the snow or whatever emergency things can occur. There was no communication at all from Cobb County School District other than snowflakes floating on the website page. That’s the only communication we had,” Morchower said.

Hinojosa took notes and listened to the criticism while adjusting his tie.

“It’s not working. Y’all need to do something better than this,” said fellow Pebblebrook parent Sandy Goldstein.

After public comment ended, Board Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci took a minute to thank parents, administrators and Cobb staff who worked through the night to get students home safely.

Angelucci singled out Deputy Superintendent Chris Ragsdale for working at the district 36 hours straight.

“It was Chris Ragsdale at 2:30 in the morning who took my call and told me that our county public safety officers were coming to the rescue as well as the National Guard,” Angelucci said.

Angelucci called the bus drivers “heroic” for risking their lives in the storm, and thanked board member Brad Wheeler for spending the night in the central office.

She did not thank or even mention Hinojosa in her comments.

“When something like this occurs, we take responsibility, we look to improve and move forward, and we wanted to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to everyone that was there to help,” Angelucci said to applause.

Hinojosa took a moment to also thank everyone involved, but did not apologize.

“In Cobb County we transport 80,000 students, 80,000. That’s a significant number, higher than any other percentage I’ve been aware of, and the fact that we’ve got all but less than 400 students home, we had 300 staff members, and we had community members that were also stranded in our schools and our people stepped up,” Hinojosa said.

After the meeting, Hinojosa said he was already working with central office staff and the board to set a snow policy in place. He anticipates one will be created by the time he retires in May.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
February 10, 2014
Let's face it...he already mentally checked out after he found his new job back in Texas $$$$$. He never ever cared about Cobb County Schools..he did nothing while he was here...Actually he checked out the day he got here.
February 06, 2014
Some corrections - The superintendent left at 3PM and didn't get home until 5PM. Inexcusable. You caused this mess and then he gets the heck out of dodge to save himself! He just needs to go and go now and save us some taxpayer money. Mistakes were made and he was the only one who didn't apologize and said that he would do it the same all over again! That is the problem. At least Kathleen Angelucci admitted to the mistake and they are working on looking at the policy. So glad he is going but not soon enough for us!
Leave now
February 10, 2014
Kathleen you need to run for Superintendent! Please don't let Alice Stouder get in! She is a total mess.
February 05, 2014
I'm a teacher and my wife is a nurse. At what point are you expecting us to abandon your children or sick patients to bail out and get our kids? Even if we can see the future, it's not always so simple to leave early or skip out on work
two cents
February 05, 2014
All parents had the choice to keep their children home from school after viewing the SAME weather forecast that CCSD officials analyzed. Maybe you did not want your one child to face the possibility of some mindless busy work so you decided to send her to school. What about making the decision for over 100,000 students and staff and the responsibility of the makeup work associated with that? You should follow your gut instinct with your child. For future reference:

The Georgia Board of Education states that students may be temporarily excused from school for the following reasons:

Due to conditions rendering school attendance impossible or hazardous to their health or safety.

Don't Defend CCSD
February 10, 2014
Parents did try to get to schools, the roads didn't allow for them to get very far. Why keep your child home from school when they said..."All the severe weather will be south of the airport!
February 05, 2014
Sooo, when does parental responsibilty kick in here? Everyone else is supposed to be able to read the tea leaves but certain parents are exempt from this expectation? Where were these parents while their kids sat on a bus? I stepped up and took action to not only ensure that I got my kids home but also some of their classmates, as well (as many as I cofit in my truck).
sandy goldstein
February 05, 2014
Hi, I'm one of the parents who was at that meeting. My child is in the magnet program and I live 15 miles from the school in east cobb while the school is located in south cobb county. I couldn't get to my child. It takes me 45 min or more and It takes her bus 1.5 hours each day on a normal day to get her to her stop. She was put on a bus that day at 4 p.m. and sent into the mess. As for reading tea leaves. None needed to be read. At 6 a.m. that morning the warning was posted by the weather service. I was shocked the schools didn't close. I would not have sent her at all and told her that morning that I wanted her to stay home. But she has a full load of AP classes and had something she had to turn in or would have gotten a zero. Plus when they are absent (unexcused, which this would have been had I made her stay home) from their Performing Arts classes, they have to research and write papers on someone in Vocal and someone in Dance. Too much make up work for her to do. I couldn't put that on her on top of all the work in the AP classes. Certainly my fault that I sent her. I take responsibility. It won't happen again. However, if they are going to have magnet programs out of district, they need to also let the magnet students out much earlier in an emergency situation.
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