Update: Some Grafton Students On Bus When School Delay Came

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School buses were sitting idle waiting out the two-hour delay.
School buses were sitting idle waiting out the two-hour delay. Photo Credit: Richard Price

GRAFTON,Mass.—The two-hour delay in Grafton schools Monday came late to many homes -- and, in some areas, the school buses were already picking up Grafton High School and Grafton Middle School students.

For students at Millbury Street Elementary, their day starts at 8:15 a.m., but the automated call to parents didn't arrive till 7:30 a.m. 

One parent, Richard Quist, sent an angry e-mail to Dr. James Cummings, the Superintendent of Grafton Public Schools.

“Our children's school bus driver got the call just after they had gotten onto the bus at the top of our hill,” he said. “I can't imagine what the parents who had already left for work after their children had gotten onto the bus must be feeling, and how difficult it must be for them.”

"Until about 6 a.m. we intended to start school on time," Cummings wrote in a newsletter to parents. He said the highway department had salted the roads, but that more freezing rain followed. 

"This refreezing led to the late change in plans and a delay was called.  I apologize for the late notice and inconvenience that was caused," he said.

On the Grafton Daily Voice's Facebook page, other parents were as equally frustrated.

“There was a call to my house 1 hr AFTER my daughter left for school. How are they going to keep my child safe when they can't get delays in school correct?” said Donna Alberto Revellese.

Many local news stations, such as WCVB Channel 5 and WBZ Channel 4 were also not announcing the delay until after some students had boarded their buses. Tracy McKinney O’Donnell posted on Facebook that the Boston school stations had not reported the school delay as late as 8:14 a.m.

A spokesperson for AA Transportation, the bus company that is under contract with the school district, was unavailable for comment.

One school bus driver, who was parked on the side of Milford Road riding out the delay, said calls to drivers were coming in late and that although sand trucks were out last night, the secondary roads were still icy.  “When the calls come in late,” he said, “this is what happens.”

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Comments (11)

Wow! Welcome to Grafton, sweat the small stuff central. Mr. Quist, I have 4 children...one who was impacted by the events. I was also impacted by the events, as I work as an educator. I assume this is your first winter in new England. If you don't have your back up plan, you should get one..., that is your responsibility as a parent. When i was a kid, there were days when school would be held but we would have to find our own transportation. your (irrationally angry) reaction is an example of the entitlement problems we have now. Make my life easier, it is your job. I'm too busy for any inconvenience blah blah blah
and by the way...i don't "suck up"..i can get pretty worked up when a situation warrants.... Other than that, I attempt a rational, reasonable approach. Try it.

perhaps you drank some haterade? or perhaps you have some anger management issues? Either way let's be real. Dr. Cummings does a very good job in keeping our children safe. If you saw the President Obama's speech the other night he said it takes a community to keep our children safe" -if you were aware that the weather didn't change all night and that the conditions were dangerous why didn't you alert anyone? Life is not perfect, we are not going to get it right all the time, but we can try our best!!

I applaud the Superintendent's decision this morning. The weather condition changed around 6:00am and he made the right choice to decide on safety. Any decision about canceling or delaying the start of school will be met with complaints or what he "should have done"... but I personally want to thank Mr Cummings for doing the right thing, even if it precipitated some complaints. Imagine the complaints from parents if school buses full of children were sliding off the roads in Grafton this morning.

And I'm sure the winter weather will bring more tough choices over the next few months as we get overnight snow, freezing rain... and more tough choices will be made... and more complaints will come in. Those tough decisions will weigh heavily on Mr Cummings and I hope he continues choosing safety of my children, his children and your children above all other considerations.

I agree mom of 2. I can understand being upset if you don't have a backup plan but since I do, I also agree with Dr.Cummings decision to delay. And you're right robquist, we can't all be psychics. They rely a lot on weather reporters who I watched say the temps were supposed to be above freezing and no offense but we know how accurate they always are...

Kuddos to Dr. Cummings for informing the parents via email why he made the decision late. Why is this topic so important today that there had to be an article written about it when there is so many other things that trump a botched 2 hour delay in Grafton! Which in hindsight wasn't even botched. Like jenvacca said above, we should all have a plan in place for our children when things like this happen.
Now, what caused the power outages today and the sirens going off?? That to me is news!

Exactly....hindsight is 20/20.

Wow-I didn't realize a comment I made on Facebook would be published in the paper. I had absolutely no issue with the delay in reporting the delay, I was just stating that it wasn't posted on the school closing listings on local tv. Infact, I was happy with the extra 2 hours I had with my child because in all honesty, I wasn't sure I was ready to let her go.

The kids who were on the bus were 7th grade and up. I applaud Dr Cummings for his willingness to make the late call, and to consider the ever changing weather that we frequently experience in New England. In the cases where the bus driver turned around and brought them back home, no harm done. They were safer on a bus than in a car.

As for parents mad because they left for work right after the bus etc....the school reminds us every year to have a plan for the older grades. In the event of a weather related early release, it is the older grades who are released. The younger grades stay at school as close to dismissal time as possible... my guess is because it is easier for parents to have their 7th graders (and up) let themselves in. With that plan in place, your older child would have just returned home when notified by the bus driver, friends, Facebook, etc. If you have younger children, you knew before leaving for work...I am really having difficulty understanding why there is so much anger about this. Worse things could, and have, happened.

" I applaud Dr Cummings for his willingness to make the late call"
It's a bit inconsiderate of him to delay school do so when people were ALREADY AT THE SCHOOL

"consider the ever changing weather"
By ever-changing weather do you mean weather that was the same all night, as anyone with a brain could see? Perhaps you didn't have to wake up

"the school reminds us every year to have a plan for the older grades"
First: this sounds like you're sucking up to the administration. Great job. Sorry that no one foresaw the superintendent making a call right before school started. Guess we can't all be psychic.

"If you have younger children, you knew before leaving for work"
Even still, you can't just make plans for your children in the very short amount of time you'd have before you left, and people ca't just skip out on work to be home

"I am really having difficulty understanding why there is so much anger about this"
Then clearly you're either lying to suck up to the school or don't have children

I understand being upset, but the way you're calling out Ms. Vacca here is completely inappropriate.

Many families were inconvenienced today, that much is plain. However, what is it that you want, exactly? Dr. Cummings has already apologized for what he stands by as the right decision. He made the right call.

Your statement that the weather was the same all night is completely false. Many people left for work this morning early when the roads were fine. At 6am, as Dr. Cummings stated, the temperature dropped a bit and the rain increased. Grafton is not the only district to have to make the late call, I'm sure.

What's more important - our convenience or the safety of our children? When the information became available, the decision was made. I, for one, am grateful that he risked irate (and in my opinion, completely overreacting) parents in order to keep our children safe. And so should you be.

Wow robquist, you sound extremely angry today. Are your children alive and home with you this afternoon? If they are, you have NOTHING to complain about!