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Last minute closing in Montgomery Co. forces teachers, students back into winter storm

WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. logo WUSA-TV Washington, D.C. 11/15/2018 Bruce Leshan

GAITHERSBURG, Md. -- Montgomery County School administrators are taking tons of heat for how they handled the storm. Repeated alerts that schools would be open on a two-hour delay were followed by an urgent update that they'd be closed.

That urgent update came too late for a lot of teachers and some students. They'd ventured out into the storm and then had to turn around and head home.

High school teacher Melissa Porter Park was back home with her 10-month-old after a frustrating morning.

RELATED: Parents, students share frustrations over decision to not close school in PG Co., DC

"We all got to school, and there were students there and teachers there, and it was canceled," she said.

At 5:07 a.m., Montgomery County schools tweeted that schools would open two hours late. Minutes later, a tweet confirmed the delay, but warned of a final re-evaluation at 7 a.m. At 6:50 a.m., it was two-hour delay. Then at 8:38 a.m., an Urgent update: schools were closed.

By then, it was too late for some students, staff, and teachers.

"It's very disappointing, because we have so many students who were in the building," said Porter Park. "My teachers who live up north, it took them two hours to get home. It's just ridiculous."

A Montgomery County schools spokesman said it was a difficult decision. Derrick Turner insists the forecast changed and indicated worsening conditions. He said the schools had to respond to protect the kids.

Lots of parents wish the schools had decided before they started for class.

"I lost like two hours," said Franklin Mendoza, a father of two.

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Teacher Melissa Porter Park said one of her colleagues took it upon herself to warn kids who were already walking to school.

"She was driving through old town telling kids to go back home because school was canceled," she said.

Of course, not everyone was mad. Franklin Mendoza's kids were out sledding in the park, and said it was way more fun than school.

But Porter Park said this is far from the first time. She said three times in the last few years, she and others have made it all the way in to school only to have to turn around and head home.

The two-hour delay would have meant high schools would open at 9:45 a.m. But lots of teachers get in an hour early, so they were already in when administrators decided to close.

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