Snow Jam 2014


Now that we’re through the worst of it — please discuss your thoughts and experiences with what many are calling “Snowpocalypse”.

Share any suggestions you may wish to add to our suggested list of emergency protocol actions to recommend to the Board.

It wasn’t so much the snow that caused the gridlock – it was poor communication, poor planning and urban sprawl.

For a very interesting perspective on why and how this paralyzing gridlock occurred, read this >>

The Day We Lost Atlanta: How 2 lousy inches of snow paralyzed a metro area of 6 million


Oh – and if you can handle the truth about how the rest of the country sees the south – have a look at John Stewart’s Daily Show commentary on our snowstorm.

About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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69 Responses to Snow Jam 2014

  1. TracyW says:

    Can’t call this one Snowpocalypse – that was taken. This needs to be known as ClusterFlake.

  2. @TracyW: “ClusterFlake” Love it!!!

  3. dsw2contributor says:

    Thankfully the snow melted in time for DCS administrators to make their flights to San Diego this evening…

  4. Ella says:

    DeKalb County Schools actually came out looking fairly good compared to other metro school systems. I suspect a decision was made earlier in DeKalb than other school systems to close schools and believe me there is less snow in DeKalb than in Sandy Springs.

    Marta bus routes also closed down as soon as the school closed due to some emergency situations so it was a cluster screw up in communications. School systems in Fulton County with all the Charter Schools depend on Marta for their transportation as they do not provide the volumes of transportation as DeKalb County School System does. Many students from the north side of the county in Charters High Schools could not get home due to Marta. Yesterday about noon we finally got a bus to transport the students to the Marta train station to be able to get home.

  5. Concerned Dekalb teacher says:

    I wish parents knew the night before that school would be closing at 11:30 (full day for elementary) and to pick their kids up or be at home waiting for the bus. It is senseless to close completely for a storm that might not materialize, but smart to have a plan just in case.

  6. concerned citizen says:

    What kind of conference in San Diego, and do you know who went? Another example of totally useless expenses for the taxpayers and taking money right out of the teachers’ pockets.

  7. A Very Worried Teacher says:

    The schools should always close if this is even a possibility! It does not matter how many northern parents complain. Our climate is different. Our highway system is different. Our city cannot handle a mass evacuation. (Even if the Mayor thinks a staggerred exit plan may be an option—yeah, I can imagine waiting if I am told to-NOT). P.S. We already know there will be ice patches out there tonight. Why are they waiting to call school off tomorrow too?

  8. A Very Worried Teacher says:

    Also, people blaming the DOT are blaming the wrong people. If everyone hadn’t been evacuating all at the same time, they would not have had the mess. The interstates prove that they get clogged everyday without snow in 5:00 traffic when only 1/2 of the folks leaving Atlanta. The other 1/2 leave to meet up with their kids from school around 3:00. If everyone was home with their kids, only about 25% would have needed to evacuate. The DOT could have managed the roads then. The idea that they should have salted before it hit would have been a huge waste if it hadn’t hit. This is a rarity. Just close the schools.

  9. dsw2contributor says:

    Supposedly, the conference is at the Hotel del Coronado, where the Marilyn Monroe movie “Some Like It Hot” was filmed.

  10. howdy1942 says:

    I was not aware that Dekalb County canceled Tuesday’s classes. If that is the case, then I commend that decision. As for Georgia as a whole and for Atlanta in particular, it was a public relations disaster. I could not believe that I heard the Governor even insinuate that he would rather risk the safety of the public than a day of commerce in Georgia. Commerce can, and most likely will be made up, but that is not true for broken bones, wrecked cars, and children sleeping in schools. CNN showed film where its weather forecaster was standing in the middle of Atlanta on Monday saying that he forecasts 2 inches of snow. Joanne Feldman was on Fox 5 News at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday morning saying that the storm was tracking further north than forecast. NPR at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday morning was saying that sleet and ice were falling in New Orleans and that this storm was moving northeast toward Atlanta. Listening to both the Governor and Mayor of Atlanta, they would have been well advised to avoid blaming each other or blaming business or saying that they had no control over business when they do in emergency situations. At least they could have accepted complete responsibility and not deflected the blame to department heads and, most of all, they should have simply kept silent. This was an embarrassment for Georgia and the City of Atlanta.

  11. howdy1942 says:

    P.S. – How many administrators went to San Diego? What was it for? Talk about where we can get some money to pay teachers, this is but one of many places.

  12. Ned says:

    I almost hate to say this, but is anyone responsible for the decision on closing or opening tomorrow on a plane to San Diego right now?

  13. @howdy: DeKalb did not cancel school Tuesday. Instead they had school as usual and decided mid-day to let students go home early. My neighbor was at work at a north Fulton hospital and got a text at 12:46 that DeKalb schools would be releasing students at 1:30. Her daughter is a 6th grader. She was pretty worried as she traveled home in horrible traffic – as did virtually every public school parent in metro Atlanta. That’s probably 500,000 total students or more. (Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton, Atlanta) Clayton County was the only metro system to cancel school Tuesday. They were all at home when the storm hit. Macon and middle GA schools were also all canceled.

  14. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – thanks for the update. I guess that I need to rescind my “if” and my commendation. I just felt so sorry for all those students who were trapped in an emergency situation away from their families. I also feel sorry for those teachers who could not get home and/or had to stay to watch students. They are to be commended and extended heartfelt thanks for that sacrifice.

  15. concernedmome30329 says:

    They just cancelled school tomorrow. I am curious how the roads are in other parts of DeKalb. I haven’t been out, but many have and the roads don’t seem bad. But, there are still slick spots and the parking lots are a real mess….

    Thurmond is not in San Diego. Just saw him being interviewed on WSB and he was interviewed yesterday on WXIA.

  16. Ned says:

    is school closed tomorrow? Twitter feed says so but nothing on website, no robo-call, nothing on WSB site . . .

  17. Funnily enough – they just tweeted about it (we keep their Twitter feed in the right side panel of the blog – check it out)

    DeKalb County Schools will be closed for Fri., Jan. 31. Only 12-month employees are to report at 10:00a.m.

    In addition >>>

    Community Engagement Sessions regarding Flexibility options have been rescheduled: Region I will be at Dunwoody HS on Tuesday, February 4 at 6:30 P.M. Region III will be at Stephenson HS on Wednesday, February 5 at 6:30 P.M.

  18. concerned citizen says:

    I’d want to know who went to San Diego. I will find out, and I will publish their names and the dollar amount we have spent on these creeps. I once stayed at the Coronado Hotel; it’s a big distance from the city and is SUPER expensive and posh – five stars. We need to see the paperwork on this expense. Many, many thousands of dollars is a safe estimate. This really is an outrage, and I’m finding it hard to believe they would even try to scam this on us after all their heinous acts against teachers and students. If anyone could point me in the direction of how to get this information, I will follow up like a bulldog. This is disgusting and must be addressed. Meanwhile, I went out today to buy copy paper and pencils and some books from Goodwill. While they are sitting with their 3-olive martinis laughing at the fools who are paying their enormous salaries and allowing them to party down, DeKalb has bottomed out! Are we ever going to revolt against this daily madness? Just in four days, they have put teachers and students in grave danger, and now they sail off to San Diego. Sweet, huh?

  19. dekalbteach says:

    The San Diego trip is a Title I conference, paid with Title I funds. A portion of those funds are meant to be spent on Professional Development, which this falls under. At our school not only administrators are going, classroom teachers are going also. Also, my understanding is that they are leaving on Saturday afternoon because the conference starts on Sunday. I am not justifying the choices DCSS have made with cutting salaries, benefits, etc…. just wanted to share what is happening at our school.

  20. concerned citizen says:

    I appreciate the information, dekalbteach. However, Title I or not, this is a dreadful decision, and the person in DeKalb in charge of Title I is responsible. There is no “professional development” to be found at the Coronado Hotel in San Diego that can’t be gotten here. Again, we have allowed the supt and his minions to control the money. Title I is still my money and yours, and I certainly can think of more meaningful use than a fun trip to San Diego. Can anyone provide me with the name of DeKalb’s Title I Manager. I do not buy into “it’s OK – it’s only Title I money” In other words, it’s OK to spend any and everything under Title I’s name. I remember very well how Title I operated in the past and I see nothing has changed. In the 70s the coordinater of Title I was caught stealing computesr for Title I, along with several elementary principals. Since that time, the Title I Director has died, and so have two of the charged principals. Well, corruption and theft is still continuing under the guise of “Title I.” Will anyone in this system take the supt to task for this additional outrage? Every day, in every way, DeKalb just keeps _____ up!

  21. concerned citizen says:

    DSW: What can we do about the Title I trip to San Diego?

  22. Send an Open Records Request to DeKalb County Schools. Ask for the names of the DeKalb County Schools employees who went on this trip, ask for a copy of the meeting agenda, ask for a copy of the expense reports filed by each participating employee, and ask for all other related receipts (i.e., separately paid-for airplane tickets; separately paid-for hotel accommodations; etc).

  23. DCSD For Dummies says:

    Hmmm, principals do not teach one single child, but they always seem to go on the “fun” trips….

  24. Deja vu: Hollywood, TItle I, and America’s Choice all over again!

  25. Interesting >>

    Who Attends The National Title I Conference?

    The National Title I Conference is one of the most important professional development opportunities for all individuals working within the Title I program, as well as those who want to learn more about it. Attendees include:

    Classroom leaders (teachers, instructional coaches, resource teachers, paraprofessionals)
    Building leaders (principals, vice principals, Title I site coordinators)
    District leaders (superintendents, curriculum directors, federal programs coordinators, special education specialists, school board members)
    State leaders (state federal programs directors, state superintendents or assistant superintendents)
    Other leaders (researchers, foundation program leaders, nonprofit administrators, parents, and teacher education faculty)

  26. dsw2contributor says:

    DCS is also sending employees to the “7th Annual National SAM/Principal Conference”, at the Hotel del Coronado:

    According to the website, SAM is a professional development process for Principals – SAM refers to “School Administrator Manager”. The program was created by the Wallace Foundation, not some government agency.

    The Samsconnect website makes some pretty impressive claims: “Independent and external research has determined that principals gain the equivalent of 27 extra days of instructional leadership time in their first year using the SAM process. (PSA, 2011) By the third year the gain of instructional leadership time exceeds 55 days.”

    Another page on the website says that each Principal in the SAM program is “shadowed” for five days, with the shadow documenting the Principal’s activity every five minutes. IMHO, someone who is willing to have their working days documented in that much detail is probably not someone we have to worry about. (Just imagine how much better DCS would be today if Crawford Lewis and Cheryl Atkinson had someone writing down what they were doing every five minutes!)

    This SAM conference is tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday; apparently participating DCS Principals are traveling out tonight and coming back on Sunday. Another local district (Gwinett?) is also sending employees to the same conference.

  27. Are principals really going? If so, I think it’s a good idea. But the “Hollywood” fiasco included very few people from the schoolhouses of the hundreds who attended. It was all top tier administrators – and they were supposed to train the trainers (principals) who in turn, trained teachers. I’m pretty sure that nothing much was ever discussed or taught to others after the conference. It was a ginormous waste. Let’s hope this one is not like that.

    Readers — Please let us know if you know of a principal that attended this conference.

  28. howdy1942 says:

    I appreciate all the comments regarding this “developmental” trip. Since our teachers are being forced to take five furlough days without pay, I view the financial situation at the Dekalb County School System to be dire and in austerity. In such a situation in industry, there would be no travel without officer-level approval and, in the case of DCSS, that would be approval at the school board level. Requiring such approval would be public and also be one way to bring some order to the DCSS – ban all travel until we eliminated those furlough days – period!

    Having said that, I don’t think that the issue in the Dekalb County School System is money. Dekalb is one of the wealthier counties in the State and it also has the highest millage tax rate. Besides, the economy is improving and, supposedly, home prices and hence home evaluations are also improving. That should mean that the DCSS has more money and the first priority to be addressed ought to be those furlough days.

    I am struck by any thought that Title I funds somehow appear to be “free money” for the Dekalb County School System to spend as it pleases, whether that is wise or not. In this day and time, so many more developmental resources are available online and readily accessible for a small fraction of the cost associated with travel. In fact, I remember speakers offering to come to Atlanta if we guaranteed a specific audience size, normally around 10, Travel, lodging, and meal costs could be totally avoided and the training/development could reach a far greater audience than otherwise. Granted, you don’t have the eye contact or the “hand-shaking” opportunity, but the local equivalent is only slightly less effective and far less expensive.

    I wonder if those in governance and senior administration levels ever thought of alternatives to expensive travel?

    Thanks for this post and I look forward to your further posts!

  29. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @howdy1942, my recollection is that there is some required travel associated with some of the federal dollars school districts receive. I recall in the old days when it was called Chapter 1, there were at least 2-3 conferences per year that various staff members attended. The expectation was that attendees would bring information back that would ultimately benefit the school district.

    Given the technology advances, perhaps some of this can be done virtually. You acknowledge the value one gets with meeting people, eye contact and hand shaking. I’m sure a blended approach could be used where some training/meeting is done virtually allowing a smaller contingent to travel.

  30. Fred in DeKalb says:

    Back on topic, it is interesting the Gwinnett had a full day of school on Tuesday and will go to school on Friday. Has anyone heard complaints? There is something to be said about how that district manages information. I attribute it partly to their leadership longevity, both with Wilbanks and the Board member.

    It will be interesting to see Gwinnett once this leadership team retires.

  31. H.A. Hurley says:

    Inquiry: I was one of the first to write to your present blog, but it was not published.
    I do not think my comments were at all inappropriate.
    Did it slide on the ice somewhere?
    Roll over or is it stranded?
    Just checking!

  32. Bucky Rogers says:

    Only DeKalb elementary schools released at 1:30. High schools released at 2:30 and middle schools released at 3:15. In the media, Thurmond credited DeKalb’s success to the stationing of buses near schools throughout the morning. There is no doubt that DeKalb was luckier than our western neighbors, but several of the staff members from my school were stranded on the roads and did not make it home to their families Tuesday night. I’m still not sure why this happened as we were all aware– teachers, students, administrators, parents– that we were under a winter storm warning when we arrived at school on Tuesday morning, and many of us couldn’t believe that school hadn’t been canceled. Then we all thought for sure that we’d be out before lunch. Ha, if only.

  33. concerned citizen says:

    Next, we need to find out why the people who were chosen were chosen. Who decided who would get to go? For sure, no one at my school was selected. I’m going to get the list, the dollar amount, and the decision maker on the attendees.

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  35. whatever says:

    School should have been canceled or plans should have been made for us to leave at 12. All of us. Deciding to dismiss middle school at 3:15, 45 minutes before regular dismissal was crazy. I have been through this before in the first snowjam. It happened pretty much the same way. Everyone blamed the fact that everyone left at the same time. That does not change the fact that the snow melted and froze fast. Do we really think that DOT was going to treat all of the side roads and driveways into schools. We study history so that we do not repeat mistakes. When I left for school on Tuesday I fully expected to be home by early afternoon beacause I knew what would happen if we stayed after lunch. By the way I saw the winter storm warning when I got up in the morning. I am not sure why people in charge could not. My school had kids stranded until early evening. The administrators (principal, APs) who took the responsibility to stay got stuck on the roads and had a nightmare trip home . Even elelmentary teachers who got out earlier could not make it home. I am very upset about the whole thing because if it starts snowing in below freezing temps during the day in Atlanta the roads turn to ice quickly. I have lived in atlanta for 50 years and have seen it happen many times. Planners need to keep that little fact in their heads for next time.

  36. H.A. Hurley says:

    I recommend a Moratorium of out of town trips, for any reason, for several years, until our kids and teachers have even the minimum for appropriate instruction and learning.
    Fat Cats love the perks provided along with the privilege of escaping the begging and groveling teachers have to do to just have TP in teacher bathrooms or tissues for little ones’ runny noses.
    Principals were given paid-for PhD programs at Mercer, now this other program. Why? As professionals, let them pay their own way. Teachers pay their own tuition when going to grad school. Part of being a professional, unless we are rolling in dough. Forgot, some of our FF are doing just that.
    Nothing, absolutely nothing has changed in DCS!
    Thurmond should have cancelled school on Tuesday. When thousands of parents have to pick up thousands of children from hundreds of DC schools with one hour notice……do the Math, creates chaos and panic. Multiply, carry the 1 = ATL gridlock on a sunny day.
    Also, why is DCS the only metro system with a rarely and poorly functioning Twitter? DCS App is a Joke! Parents are not getting the info necessary to plan or receive answers to very important questions.
    Treat yourself and go on APS Twitter @apsupdates .They were up 24/7 answering questions, networking stranded buses, canceling projected events, reassuring kids and parents.
    @dekalbschools went to sleep!
    @leeMay went to sleep!
    DC was off the News radar throughout Tues & Wed.
    I have no answers or solutions! I’m OUT! As they say on Shark Tank! At least until I get mad again.
    See you in a couple of minutes. 😀

  37. H.A. Hurley says:

    DSCW2 ~
    Thanks for checking.
    Since I can’t predict when BRILLIANCE sets in, I will not be able to recall my deep thoughts and intelligent comments made at the post of this Blog. Have to wait until my next wave of BRILLIANCE sweeps me off my feet and lets my fingers do the tapping.

  38. concerned citizen says:

    Dr., er, uh, Ms., er, Dr., er, ummm, Mrs,Dr..,,,Hurley: Your brilliance is alive and well, I’m glad to see, not to mention your sense of humor. I totally agree that no trips should be allowed. That’s just common sense. These nuts are just not going to stop squandering the public funds. Imagine the money spent on this trip – Title I – WOW! i INTEND TO CONTINUE FOLLOWING UP ON THE PEOPLE WHO WENT, HOW THEY WERE CHOSEN, AND THE DOLLARS SPENT, WHO APPROVED THIS CRAP,and all other details.I

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