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North Texas Districts Defend Decision To Close Schools

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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Although freeways and major thoroughfares remained for the most part free of ice, a handful of North Texas school districts cancelled classes Friday — citing icy conditions on side streets, sidewalks and parking lots.

Richardson ISD’s decision to cancel classes caught many parents by surprise.

“Yes, I was surprised,” said Gabriella Moran, a mother of three RISD students.  “I was shocked because my husband went to work.  We checked all the streets and everything was clear.”

Moran’s daughter, 10-year-old Sofia, spent the day jumping on the trampoline and playing with friends.  But the girl admitted that she wanted to be in school Friday, because she’s missing out on the fun. “We have solid gold dancers and I just like Friday,” Sofia said.  “Plus, I don’t want to make it up later in the year.”

The Garland, Mesquite and Rockwall school districts also decided students and staff were safer at home.

The decision to cancel classes, and when to do it, can be dicey. The only certainty is that someone will disagree with the decision.

“They probably should have did it yesterday when it was a lot worse than it is now,” said Richardson High School freshman Ravontae Dixon.

Although unplanned snow days can cause childcare headaches for parents, Richardson school officials said they heard from more upset parents on Thursday, angry that classes weren’t cancelled.

School officials said predicting when to shutter the schools requires “a crystal ball.”  But, minus that, staffers check conditions on each campus and monitor weather forecasts. They even consider plans in nearby districts, before making a decision.

“No decision is easy to make,” explained RISD Director of Communications, Tim Clark.  “You’re going to inconvenience people regardless of what you do, and we know that going in.  So when our superintendent makes the final decision, she tries to make the
decision that she thinks is going to be the safest decision for our students and staff.”

Although by midday many of the campuses that had caused concerns earlier were clear of ice, Clark maintained that the district made the right call. “You’re projecting out what you think conditions are going to be 6, 7, 8 hours in the future.  Most of the time you hope you’re right.  Sometimes maybe you’re not, but, if we’re going to err, we want to err on the side of safety.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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