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Harford schools didn't do what's in the best interest of the students during Friday weather [Letter]

The following letter was sent to Harford County Public Schools. A copy was provided for publication.

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Dear Harford County Public Schools Leadership:

This past Friday morning I woke up and checked my Facebook feed, as I often do, for what I consider relevant local news of the day. Aside from keeping in touch with my friends and family, I receive updates from local organizations such as Harford County Public Schools, the Harford Fire Blog, the Harford County Sheriff's Office, Justin Berk-Meterologist and the Bel Air Police Department to name a few. In some ways this gives me a better idea of what is going on in "my world" than any other single media site.

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Right after watching a replay of the live stream from the "Public Discussion on School Safety" held at the John Carroll School the night before, I saw a press release from Governor Hogan issued Thursday night, as well as early Friday posts from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency indicating that travel would be unsafe on Friday morning during this rare and extreme wind weather event. Both made pleas in their posts, urging citizens to stay off the roads.

Did you miss that, HCPS? Because every single other county in the State of Maryland caught on and took appropriate and timely action to keep their students and employees safe. Where were you?

It baffles me that you release statements to the community indicating the safety of students is your number one priority where guns and violence are concerned, but then at the same time show such a complete lack of judgment over a weather situation that was well-predicted and well-publicized by the agencies charged with keeping all citizens safe. Did we not learn any lessons from 9/11 and other national tragedies regarding government agencies failing to communicate with one another to coordinate protective action against a known threat until it was too late?

I got a few flippant responses from people on social media saying I should have kept my kids home if I felt they were threatened. I do hold myself accountable for sending them out into a dangerous situation, which is why I went to school early to pick up my bus rider when I started hearing stories of overturned trucks, falling trees and downed power lines. My two middle school children do not receive bus service to our home (which is 1.4 miles away from school if they take the dangerous highway path, farther if they travel through the woods) so I retrieved them from school at the one-hour early dismissal knowing we could take the neighborhood route home. On the way home, we witnessed one very large tree being cleared by neighbors with chainsaws from the path of the elementary school buses that would soon be coming, and another tree falling on top of a car in motion. Fortunately for us it was not our car, and fortunately for the driver, she walked away with only busted out windows and a smashed in roof.

I will always do what is best in the interest of safety for my family, but I expect better from YOU! How can I put my trust in you for their protection from surprise threats when you disregard such strong warnings as this from known threats? Please evaluate your actions in this event and do better next time. Our children deserve better.

Carolyn McNeirney

Bel Air

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