Bus drivers criticize HISD after working during Imelda's flooding event

By Bill Barajas - Reporter

HOUSTON - Houston Educational Support Personnel Officials and bus drivers for Houston Independent School District want answers from the district about its decision to keep its schools open during dangerous weather conditions.

HESP President Wretha Thomas said Tuesday the decision endangered the lives of its employees, students and bus drivers. Thomas wants answers from the district about its decision to not cancel classes.

“I sent a letter to the superintendent and asked her why they didn’t close the school on Thursday. I never did get a response from her,” she said.

HISD bus driver Alva Bacon reacted to having to drive students in the rain and flooded streets as she tried to get them home safely.

"They were on the bus, 'Oh, Ms. Bacon are we going to drown? (Are) we going to be flooded in? Are you scared? cause I'm scared.'"

Bus driver Cloria Witherspoon, on how some of her colleagues reacted to the news that they would have to work during the storm.

"I had a co-worker yesterday tell me. I started crying. This made me so nervous, this made me upset," Witherspoon said.

The district released a response to its decision-making process during Tropical Storm Imelda on Thursday:

"As weather conditions continue to develop across the Houston region and we assess the status of all HISD campuses, the district is following established protocols for determining closures or delays at schools and district facilities. This process includes numerous conference calls between the interim superintendent and the National Weather Service, Houston TranStar, and other city, county, and emergency management agency officials, as well as other school district superintendents.

"In today’s case, the weather event, unfortunately, took a turn that was unforeseen by many area districts and agencies. We followed the emergency management officials’ advice to shelter in place and maintain normal dismissal times due to extreme conditions. Throughout the day, we took proactive measures to keep our students and staff safe. Please know that the decision whether or not to close schools is never taken lightly and the safety of our students and staff is our absolute top priority."

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