Superintendents respond to criticism for staying open Thursday

A school bus passes a fallen tree, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Houston, as heavy rain from Tropical Depression Imelda falls. (Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP)

HISD has announced it will close on Friday after taking a lot of heat for not canceling classes on Thursday.

“All HISD schools and offices are closed and classes are canceled for Friday, September 20 to allow our students and staff time to recover from the conditions resulting from Tropical Storm Imelda and prepare our buildings,” the district said in a statement released just after 8 p.m. 

Angry Houstonians took to social media all day to share their frustration with HISD for not canceling school on Thursday.

After torrential rains made many roads impassable, HISD tweeted they were “following emergency management officials’ recommendation to continue to shelter in place inside our schools. Our focus is the safety of our students and staff.”

“Students are still traumatized by Harvey. Shame on y’all,” tweeted Taylola Kathryn. 

#HISD Superintendent makes $345,060 a year, yet prioritizes budget cuts and federal funding over the safety of HISD students, families, and employees,” tweeted Tory Griswold. 

Worried parents walked through floodwaters to pick up their children. 

Some students said they would stay home from school Friday in protest. 

In response to the criticism, Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan issued a statement Thursday evening. 

“Dear Parents and Community Members:

As weather conditions continue to develop across the Houston region as a result of Tropical Storm Imelda and we assess the status of all HISD campuses, the district is following established protocols for determining closures or delays at schools and district facilities.

This process includes:

  • Days before weather events, the interim superintendent engages in numerous conference calls with the National Weather Service, Houston TranStar, other city, county, and emergency management agencies, and school district superintendents from surrounding areas.
  • As the weather event nears, the frequency of the conference calls increases.
  • The morning of the weather event, the interim superintendent takes part in a conference call at 3 a.m. HISD Risk Management team also takes part in conference calls with emergency agencies.
  • Using data, analysis, and recommendations from the National Weather Service, TranStar and city, county, and emergency management agencies, the interim superintendent makes a decision on closures or delays considering the safety and welfare of students and staff.

In today’s case, the weather event unfortunately took a turn that was unforeseen by many area school districts and agencies. Throughout the day, we took proactive measures to keep our students and staff safe. We followed the emergency management officials’ advice to shelter in place and maintain normal dismissal times.

The safety of our students, parents and staff is always our number one priority, and we will continue to heed the advice of city and county leaders as well as emergency management officials in our decision-making process for campus and district operations.

For more information about out school closing procedures please click here:”