The following letter comes from the Superintendent of Montgomery County schools the day that a bus driver was shot on the steps of a Ride On bus in Aspen Hill. The letter addresses this incident as well as the traffic and absences caused by this most recent shooting.
The letter was not sent home today with students. It reads as follows.
October 22, 2002
Dear Parents, Students, and Staff:
The early morning events involving another shooting in central Montgomery County created many difficult and serious complications for our schools. Students on buses and staff in their cars were caught in the same traffic congestion as everyone else in the areas where the police investigation was focused. Absenteeism and late arrivals were high in certain schools in these areas, but not in all schools. In fact, many of the schools directly affected reported good student and staff attendance, including some in the 90 percent range. Many students in these schools receive before-school care and participate in the free and reduced-price breakfast program. Schools today provided many important services for these students.
Schools outside of the investigation area had high attendance, as well, most in the normal range. I make this point to underscore the importance of maintaining the operations of our schools today, even under the most difficult of circumstances. Some changes were made, including implementing Code Blue and canceling afternoon kindergarten and pre-kindergarten programs. But every school opened, some with just a few staff initially and many with parent volunteers. As the day progressed, staff members were able to navigate the congestion and report to their schools.
No final decisions were made at the time this letter was prepared regarding school for tomorrow, Wednesday, October 23. We remained in close contact with county police throughout the day and, because of the changing nature of today's events, we delayed our decisions for tomorrow until later this afternoon or evening. Please monitor the news media, Cable Channel 34, or the school system's web site for updates.
Our efforts for the past three weeks have depended on the professionalism of the women and men who work in both our schools and offices and those who operate our buses. I have said several times in these letters that school system employees have displayed heroic efforts to suppress their own anxieties and take care of our students. Today's events are both shocking and frustrating, and understandably there is continued worry. But, today's response by teachers and their colleagues displays the great dedication and commitment that so distinguish our schools.
Jerry D. Weast, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Kevin Fang. More »