Some MNPS Parents Frustrated With District's Communication

Posted at 8:51 PM, Mar 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-19 23:44:44-04

The threat of severe weather had school districts across Middle Tennessee facing the difficult decision regarding closing school.

Multiple school systems, including Metro Nashville Public Schools, decided to close early to ensure students stayed safe. While some parents appreciated the district prioritizing students’ safety, some parents weren’t happy with how the district notified them of the change.

Some parents said they never received a phone call from the district announcing schools would close three and a half hours early, and had to learn through social media. Others said they had limited notice, and were left scrambling to pick up their kids.

“I just didn’t understand the lack of communication,” said Mary Holden, a teacher at Hillwood High School, and parent of a MNPS 4th grader. “Is Twitter really the official way the district is choosing to communicate? Not all parents are on Twitter, and not all teachers are on Twitter.”

Holden said the campus supervisor at Hillwood High School told her around 9:45 a.m. Monday that the school would be dismissing early at 10:30 a.m. She searched online for confirmation from MNPS officials. 

She said the information was posted in a tweet at 9:55 a.m., but then deleted. The same information was posted again in a tweet at 10:03 a.m.  She received an official call from the district at 10:23 a.m., which was just seven minutes before high schools were scheduled to dismiss.

“If you were a parent of a high school student you literally had a seven minute warning that your son or daughter was going to be released from school that day,” said Holden.

Ken Stark, Executive Officer of Operations for MNPS said the district had been monitoring the forecast for the last week.  The top priority was students’ safety.

“When we looked at the info we were given on the forecast and looking toward afternoon dismissal, we wanted to make sure we could get the kids home safely,” said Stark.

A district spokesperson said the decision to close early was made just before 10 a.m.  First the district notified principals, followed by social media posts, calls to parents and then emails to media and staff.

But, some parents voiced concerns on the MNPS Facebook page that they never received a phone call. Holden said she felt communication from the central office was lacking.

“I know the district is more than capable of communicating in an organized manner,” said Holden.  “I don’t know why they don’t do it consistently.”