HAMILTON COUNTY, Tennessee(WDEF) - Hamilton County School leaders say the decision to open schools on Tuesday was based on weather conditions they received Monday night even though conditions changed early Tuesday morning.
School superintendent Rick Smith is taking heat from parents over their decision to open schools before snow and ice made the road conditions unsafe. He's also taking heat over sending students home at the height of Tuesday's snowfall.
Smith says it came down to conflicting weather reports.
"I think it was a very difficult up until late; late being five or six that people didn't know just how much change actually was occurring. For us, we have to make those decisions really early in the morning," Smith said.
He was asked why a decision wasn't made much earlier.
"We felt like we didn't have the information to make it," Smith replied.
There were seven weather related crashes involving Hamilton County School buses to go along with hundreds of parents who either got caught in gridlock or crashed their vehicles while trying to pick up their child. Many of those parents express outrage at the superintendent and even called for his job.
"In this particular situation, certainly there will be people that have some very difficult situations to deal with. We had many of those yesterday. So you know there's not a decision that I make that someone is not furious or angry with me," Smith said.
It's not everyday the Tennessee Valley gets snow that creates problems for motorists and it's not everyday that school leaders are faced with decisions about when and how to send students home because of snow. But given what happened on Tuesday, there may be a different response should we see another weather scenario
"If a day like this evolves again and we think something is going to happen during the school day and doesn't happen at night, we may do something very different and I hope the public understands that," Smith said.