Since the beginning of the contemporary public education system, winter weather patterns bring youthful eagerness for a snow day. But in 2013, students can air such hopes on the Internet, and like many things that teenagers do, it gets out of hand pretty quickly.
Joshua Starr, the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools, issued an open letter to the parents of his system’s 151,000 students last week in response to a flurry of harassing tweets and emails he received urging him to close the county’s schools for a pair of recent wintry storms.
“Some of these ‘tweets’ were clever, funny, and respectful, pleading for me to cancel school so they could sleep in or have more time to do their homework,” Starr wrote. “Many of these tweets, however, were offensive and disturbing. Some were threatening to me and others.”
Among the nastier messages, according to the Washington Post, were now-deleted tweets such as “i dont think your kids would be too happy with you if you didnt cancel school tomorrow” and “People go to hell for things like this.” (For the record, Montgomery County did have a two-hour delay last Monday, and closed all-day last Tuesday for a storm that dumped just a little bit of rain on most of the Washington area.)
DC Public Schools doesn’t have the same problem as its suburban neighbor, spokeswoman Melissa Salmanowitz says. Although DCPS got plenty of tweets about last week’s weather, many expressed incredulity about canceling a full day of classes for light rain instead of outrageous demands to close.
Smh the snow isn’t bad at all now… Y’all missed school for this!!! HAHA DCPS getting soft
— Big Irv (@BigIrv14) December 10, 2013
I think someone should start a petition to ban snow days in @dcps, especially when there IS NO SNOW.
— Stephanie Mencimer (@smencimer) December 10, 2013
And, as Salmanowitz says, while DCPS observes its students’ social media, no flurry of tweets is going to compel the department into declaring a snow day. “We’re happy to hear from them, but we leave the decisions to the experts,” she says.