News & Politics

Montgomery County Students Send Superintendent Offensive Tweets Demanding Snow Days

Sorry, kids. You can’t tweet your way to a snow day.

Photograph by Annette Shaff / Shutterstock.

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.

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.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.