Mamie J. Perkins

Mamie J. Perkins (Jed Kirschbaum / Baltimore Sun / August 19, 2010)

The interim superintendent of Anne Arundel County schools apologized Saturday after coming under fire for the decision to open schools on time Friday, when freezing rain made roads dangerous.

Anne Arundel was the only school system in central Maryland to open on time Friday, while Howard, Harford, Carroll, Baltimore County and Baltimore City schools were on a two-hour delay. Freezing rain fell early in the morning, particularly in Anne Arundel County, where there were about 70 car accidents and 50 injuries.

On Friday, school system officials said they regretted the decision and that they made the call to open on time before the road conditions deteriorated. Early start times and the "complicated" bus system contributed to the issue, Interim Superintendent Mamie J. Perkins wrote in a letter to parents.

Perkins wrote that she was in discussions about whether the system should build more flexibility into the bussing to make it possible to change decisions on school delays or closings later in the morning.

"We made the wrong call," she wrote. "The ultimate call is our school system's and our school system's alone. It is made by a group of human beings who truly are working hard and doing their level best to make correct decisions. We as a system are not perfect, and we should not be afraid to admit when we err. In this case, we clearly could have done better."

Some parents were enraged by the decision to open on time, saying the safety of their children was put at risk. County Executive Laura Neuman weighed in with her own statement, saying she hoped the situation would not happen again.

"The school system is a great partner in our county and I respect the difficult position they were in Friday morning," Neuman said. "We all want the same things for our children and parents, and I hope that the review Mrs. Perkins is conducting leads to changes that prevent this from happening again."

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