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Parents Frustrated With School District

Two buses crash on icy roads.
TYRONE, BLAIR COUNTY - Early this morning dozens of calls and Facebook messages came pouring into the WTAJ Newsroom from angry parents in the Tyrone Area School District.
The district attempted to start school on time Wednesday, but that didn't last long thanks to icy, dangerous road conditions.
Tyrone Junior Shaye Loose and her younger brother Lance got on the bus at their normal time Wednesday morning along Skelp Mountain Road.
That trip to school didn't last long.
 “Shortly after that it just started going and there wasn't any saving it. We just missed a few trees and it just stopped,” Shaye Loose says.
Their bus lost control along the icy road and crashed less than a mile after they were picked up.
And they weren't the only ones.
“This bus was crashed on this side of the valley. Another bus that my little cousin was on was on the other side of the valley. On the radio they said all the buses stop moving. Pull off right now,” Lance Loose says.
According the Tyrone Area School District’s website, all the buses currently on the road were told to stop where they were and school was canceled
Students waited on the buses for more than an hour for conditions to get better before the drivers turned around and took them home.
Dana Loose is one of many parents that couldn't believe there was no delay.
“The roads were too bad I couldn't get to them. It was frightening to me. Frustrating would be a better word for it,” Dana Loose says.
The district says no one was hurt and all of the students on the buses were home safely by 11:30 am.
“It could have been a lot worse. We could have hit a dry spot and rocked the bus. We were all lucky,” Lance Loose says.
And the family hopes that sends a message to the district.
“I'm hoping this is a big eye opener and a learning lesson. A delay is a lot better than killing my kids,” Dana Loose says.
WTAJ did leave multiple messages with Tyrone Superintendent Cathy Harlow for comment, but those messages were not returned. She did post this statement on the Tyrone Area School District website:
The decision to delay the start of school, cancel school, or dismiss school early due to weather conditions is a difficult task and one that is not taken lightly by the Superintendent of the Tyrone Area School District.

The decision making process occurs well before the first student is picked up. The Tyrone Area School District encompasses 167 square miles. Many of our school buses leave the bus depot by 6:00 AM and it takes approximately an hour and a half for all buses to complete their routes. Thus, the decision to delay or cancel must be made prior to bus departure. Weather reports from various sources such as AccuWeather and the National Weather Service are used to determine expected conditions. In addition, I communicate with bus contractors, road supervisors from several municipalities, neighboring school districts, and have traveled the roads to assess their condition prior to making a final decision. Many times the decision is not made until absolutely necessary due to changing weather conditions and reports. As much information as possible is gathered in an attempt to make the best decision for all stakeholders.

This morning these same procedures were followed in making the decision not to delay. Weather conditions deteriorated quickly after we began picking up students, to a point where it was no longer safe for our buses to continue on their routes. At that point, we instructed all buses to find a safe location to pull off of the road. We continued to monitor road conditions and remained in contact with all buses. Once it was determined it was safe to proceed, drivers were directed to return students to their homes as safely as possible. During this event, numerous calls were made to parents in an effort to keep families informed of the situation. Thankfully, all students were returned home safely.

I completely understand the frustration and concerns regarding today’s events. I hope you understand we strive to make well informed decisions utilizing the most relevant information available at the time. Please be assured that I will continue to evaluate this process in an effort to make the best possible decisions in the future with the safety of all students in mind.”

Cathy L. Harlow
Tyrone Area School District

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