Though she had apologized for the stress induced by a controversial dismissal process Wednesday, Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Terry Alban on Thursday stood by her decision to keep students in class for a full day as the remnants of Hurricane Ida moved through the region.

During the storm that dropped up to 8 inches of rain in parts of the county, some neighboring counties dismissed students early amid forecasts of the hazardous weather.

In Frederick County, however, one situation saw first responders using rafts to evacuate students off of one bus when it became stuck in floodwaters, and two other drivers made calls for assistance.

Schools were eventually closed Thursday due to the lingering effects of the storm.

Community members and parents have been vocal on social media in criticizing Alban and FCPS for not sending students home early Wednesday. On Wednesday, Board of Education member Liz Barrett called on Alban to “resign immediately,” writing to her in an email that she didn’t trust the superintendent’s ability to keep students safe.

In response, Alban said “individual board members are always entitled to their opinions.”

Alban told the News-Post on Thursday that her dismissal decision was made on the advice of first responders and emergency management personnel, who were monitoring the forecast and didn’t anticipate the severity of the storms.

Any decision to dismiss early must be made by 11 a.m., Alban said.

“It looked like there would be some rain whether we dismissed two hours early or stayed the course,” Alban said. “The very heavy, intense raining — my understanding is that [it] had not been showing up on the radar until it was almost actually on top of us.”

Buses still could have gotten caught in dangerous conditions had schools let out earlier, Alban added.

As the flash floods worsened, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office ordered FCPS buses off the roads. Children were returned to schools, where teachers — who are working without a contract as mediation with the school board continues — stayed hours after dismissal to supervise them and coordinate pick-up.

The seven elected members of the Board of Education are set to meet in closed session Friday afternoon to debrief Wednesday’s events.

One of those members is Sue Johnson, who responded to five calls for water rescues Wednesday in her role as a volunteer with the Carroll Manor Fire Company. She’s trained in swift water rescue.

Johnson was called out to assist in the rescue of the stranded school bus — which became stuck in high water near Thurmont around 3 p.m. But other responders got there first, and Johnson was diverted to a different rescue before she reached the scene.

“Everybody knew we were expecting bad weather,” Johnson said.

Starting Monday, the county’s Division of Fire and Rescue Services started making preparations, she added.

“I truly don’t think people realize the danger of moving water,” Johnson noted.

The board doesn’t make any operational decisions for the school system, Johnson pointed out, meaning they didn’t have any role in Wednesday’s planning. But she acknowledged that FCPS’ communication with parents throughout the storm could have been better, and she said she would explore options for an updated emergency alert system.

“I will expend a good deal of energy to make sure that we — as immediately as possible — have a better plan in place,” Johnson said. “I don’t ever want to have to be a responder for a school bus that’s occupied.”

Johnson said she was “disappointed in the fact that we had numerous cases of buses traveling in backed-up water.”

Follow Jillian Atelsek on Twitter: @jillian_atelsek

(80) comments

public-redux

She does seem rather Trumpian.

Comment deleted.
gramps

[beam][beam][beam]

phydeaux994

Do any of you have complaints about the quality of FCPS Education? Has the system deteriorated under Dr. Albans direction? We don’t have kids in the system but I have never heard a complaint from neighbors about their quality of Education. And of the 3 Counties or kids attended school in, every Superintendent has caught flack for a weather related decision more than once. Seems like many FC citizens like to bash people, especially if they are considered “Lefties”. Just sayin.

HappySeller2014

Phy, once you start down the road of namecalling, your position gets discredited faster than the remnants of IDA passed through on Wednesday. You were doing fine until the last sentence, where your paragraph imploded. I consider myself a rehabilitated Republican who actually is enjoying being a moderate Democrat nowadays, so no Leftist here.

Multiple buses stuck in floodwaters with swift water rescue boats circlong during an "unexpected" weather event does not take sides politically, my friend.

Awteam2021

Sorry I missed the name calling. Where’s that.

Meanwhile measurements show our school system is doing extremely well under Albany’ Mladership. Right? Do you disagree? Where is your child’s education deficiencies? And how could Alban best address your child’s issues. That should be your educational concern. When it comes to road safety, and conditions of our roads lies with the highway and safety commission. That’s their job? Not a public school administrator.

HappySeller2014

How early you start drinking this weekend, Awteam2021?

phydeaux994

Happy, I’m a “Leftie”. I know you’re not. You’re not a moderate Democrat either, based your comments lately.

phydeaux994

I keep reading your comment over and over and I still don’t understand your reply. Who did I call a “Leftie”. I was just saying that the attacks on Dr. Alban are totally out of proportion to her “crime”, which as I pointed out has been committed by every school Superintendent in history multiple times. She made a mistake and acknowledged that. End of story.

gabrielshorn2013

Agreed phy. FCPS under Dr. Alban has done a great job academically, which is her job. She relies on her transportation staff, as well as input from local law enforcement to make weather-based transportation decisions, and call early dismissal. You don't fire the manager because the 2nd baseman made an error.

Plumbum

The buck stops at the top.

gabrielshorn2013

Noce slogan, but nonetheless nonsense.

llrowse

Other than Linda Burgee, Dr. Alban has been the most knowledgeable Superintendent, who is approachable, and reasonable. She does support best practices, and it shows

gabrielshorn2013

👍👍👍IIrowse

Aperiodic.Moralist1

Haha! You must be Terry!

threecents

How dare you.

ClairePSU

Alban is brazen in her unwillingness to own her mistakes. My sister works in FCPS and has shared that the executives at the central office love to buzz about ‘servant leadership’ and ‘customer service’. Dr. Alban must have an interesting perspective on what those terms mean. Turning off the comment section on Facebook and Twitter so her ‘customers‘ couldn’t have a forum to air their grievances to the organization doesn’t seem like the work of a servant leader nor is it good customer service. Shouldn’t an effective leader be thick-skinned enough to withstand the duly earned public ire and concern about the safety of its children, and-- the real ‘servant leaders’ —the teachers, school based administrators, & support staff who were endangered by her mistake?

llrowse

When it comes to a public forum, where people can comment under the cloak of a pseudonym, people feel feel free to say the ugliest, degrading, and untrue comments. Like right here, if those pseudonyms were unveiled, and the individual had to prove their comments, most would go scuttling along back to whatever hovel they came from. Having those comments turned off, forces the individual to step forth into the light, claim it, and explain it. Libel can be pricey

Plumbum

You missed the point. The point is about Alban’s screw ups and lack of ability to deal with what people have to say.

llrowse

I got your point, you’re not getting mine. As well, I believe that I taught for 6 different Superintendents in Frederick. My knowledge of what people call “screw ups”, is based on 30 years of first person experience. Also, you don’t know the near misses of possible Superintendent applicants. Things are pretty good.

HappySeller2014

llrowse, you still missing the point. But, to your statement, this forum exists because it can self-police itself. Call out inaccuracies. Call out questionable statements. Make your own statements...but be able to ensure you can support them if questioned. Healthy debate is a good thing...and clearly, the art of debate is not taught well in schools anymore.

People can easily see through the idiocracy. There are baskets of deplorables everywhere, including on the FNP comment boards. Stay strong...and remember, when comments get to the personal attack level, realize you have won.

[smile]

llrowse

ClairePSU - As educators, we are Public Servants, just as any other person who is paid by funds provided through taxes. Public Education does provide a “product” to children. The product is paid for by taxes. Public Educator’s provide the product, therefore customer service is part of the equation. I likely described Dr. Alban’s model incorrectly on some point, but this perspective has been around in the education world for a good long time. A principal shared this truth with me 25 years ago. She also explained that parents have the right to complain, through proper channels, which would start with a principal, then move on up through the chain of command, “if necessary”. This is a more personal process, and is more likely to bring about change than squawking on Facebook, among a sea of people with issues.

FrederickFan

I'd like to see Liz Barrett resign immediately. She adds absolutely no value to the board. She is just a reactionary populist, always running around looking for an angry mob to stand in front of so she can try to fire someone, or demand someone resign.

Hayduke2

Frederick- seems to simply be an angry person in general

llrowse

Amen to that. She’s the epitome of unprofessionalism.

Greg F

FCPS stands by a lot of stupid decisions. Just par for the course on this one they do the same. Heads firmly where the sun isn't shining.

vjhughes

What bothers me about Alban, even more than her decision not to dismiss school early, is her doubling down on her refusal to accept responsibility for a bad decision. If other nearby counties could make the right decision, I don’t know why Frederick County could not have.

I was getting flood watch warnings all day on my phone. I guess she didn’t.

But she didn’t have to be so snippy about her (mistaken) decision. How about a genuine apology, and a promise to revise their procedures in the future? It’s not like flooding has been unknown in Frederick County in the past.

Better safe than sorry. And if it had been my kids on those buses, I would have been furious.

I must add a big thanks to the teachers and staff in the schools who stayed late to be there for the kids until the parents could pick them up. (And I will also remind people that teachers did that without a contract, and do not get paid for the extra time.)

NewMarketParent

@vjhughes

This is part of a systemic problem that we have as a society. We are constantly reinforcing the notion that people should not change their minds when confronted with data counter to their decisions. This is a personal failure on Alban's part, but also a further failure because we have been rewarding our leadership for doubling down on bad policy.

We should have leadership that is agile, but they actually follow more of a waterfall model with policy.

llrowse

I taught for thirty years in Frederick. About 15 years ago, we woke up to quite a snow storm. It hadn’t been predicted. The Superintendent called in order to err on the side of caution. Around 12:30 that day, the snow stopped, the sun came out, and the rest of the day was pleasant. That Superintendent was dragged through the mud, with people cursing them for wasting precious instructional time. AND their child was supposed to go on a field trip that day, and it cost money!! When would that money be returned? Then some parents stayed home from work to watch their child, and what about the money already paid to daycare!!

Get it?

Awteam2021

But SAT scores still continue to out pace the state and nation with more student participation.

bpsws

FCPS does an excellent job of educating those students who want to learn. However, you might want to check the numbers of students who enroll in SAT prep classes.

gabrielshorn2013

So? Kids all over the state take SAT prep courses.

NewMarketParent

@Greg F

You might be giving them a little too much credit.

Awteam2021

Actually Frederick County made out pretty well in comparison to other places along the storm’s path. My son’s community north of Philly suffered much greater damage. His basement was flooded and power is expected to be out for another several days. Buildings were damaged from tornadoes and lives were lost.

Dwasserba

“In Frederick County, however, once situation saw first responders using rafts to evacuate students off of one bus when it became stuck in floodwaters, and two other drivers made calls for assistance.” ? This sentence makes me feel like I’ve had a stroke.

Hayduke2

Do you think maybe the driver’s decision should also be looked at?

gabrielshorn2013

Yup.

Chapman

Somehow Montgomery and Howard Counties knew to dismiss early? Did they have access to information that she did not? I doubt it. She needs to be held accountable for this. It's not the first time demonstrating poor decision making on closures.

Dwasserba

We have those mountains. Traditionally they are blamed for when our weather is nothing like a prediction. As in, “here comes the snow!” And…nope.

shiftless88

But Washington County (where it rained even more, I believe) did not dismiss early.

cyntiast

FNP please report on HOW the decision making process happens for these situations. This is a "let us learn a lesson" opportunity to help make better decisions in the future.

BlueFredneck

I only have Weather Underground.

Since about Friday, the predictions ranged between 2.5" and 4" between Tuesday 8pm and Wednesday 11pm. There were some variations on which hours would have 0.33" of rain an hour, but the total amount of rain never did dip under 2.5".

For Alban -- and apparently Jenkins -- to have feigned surprise at flash flooding occurring or thinking there'd be no chance of it happening -- seems more than a little disingenuous.

Somehow Montgomery and Howard County officials - looking at presumably the same data - reached a different decision.

Awteam2021

Actual measurements came in 2 to 3 times that high in a matter of a couple of hours.🤷‍♂️

Plumbum

People are confusing RAIN with FLOOD warnings. Two different things.

No. School isn’t closed or dismissed for rain. And no one wants it to be.

Schools is however dismissed for flood watches and flood warnings. Two different things.

Alban lacks the ability to decipher the two.

Frankle1

Why would a bus driver see a flooded street and attempt to travel through it?? Seems like drivers need more training. They should never have attempted driving through a flooded street. If they had cancelled schools, everyone would be complaining "closing for rain?!" No win situation here... But those kids should never have been put in that kind of danger. Don't drive through a flooded street!

HappySeller2014

Parents of school age children are not complaing about anything in Howard and Montgomery Counties regarding Wednesday's issues. Their children were safely released early from school Wednesday, if I recall correctly.

I serious doubt sane, responsible folks here in Frederick County would have complained if Frederick County schools also closed early. Remnants of a hurricane were passing through. Anyone complaining would have been viewed as nuts.

Again, I encourage folks not just throw up their hands here. Accountability matters when it comes to our children. Classifying this as a "no win" situation when children's lives were at stake is simply kicking the can down the road and an abdication of due diligence and responsibility. "Win win" expectations MUST ALWAYS be present when lives are at stake.

Hayduke2

Frankie-👍👍👍

threecents

When was the last time school was closed or dismissed early for rain in Frederick?

Plumbum

Schools are never dismissed for rain. Schools are dismissed for flooding / potential for flooding.

This is what Alban is failing to recognize.

And her comment about not seeing rain on the radar until it was over us, is the most ignorant thing I’ve heard. The forecasters were predicting and warning of flash flooding days in advance. And that’s correct, you don’t see rain on radar until it’s here!!!!

HappySeller2014

Excellent points, Plumbum. I think, at times, we are more in agreement with each other than butting heads. [thumbup]

Plumbum

I’m certain my points of view align with most anyone that has common sense and ability to reason.

On another note, When forecasters say a storm is headed in a certain direction, they’re basing that prediction off of air movement, not radar.

Bottom line is that Alban was oblivious to the forecasters advance warnings. Telling me that monitoring weather forecast is not at all part of her daily routine. This was well forecast. You’d have to live in la la land to not have gotten the message.

And it’s bothersome that no one under her spoke up and said “Terry, what are you doing, there’s flash flood warnings for the county”.

And on another note, myself and my family did get caught in a flash flood about 6 years ago. Driving along, rain started. Next thing you know it’s dumping on us. Get on an exit ramp to enter an interstate, and the interstate traffic was stopped. In a matter of less than 2 minutes, the interstate had about 8 inches of water over it, just like that. No one understands how it happens until they’ve actually been through it. Which is why we must listen to the forecasters

threecents

I was not trying to make a point. I was just asking. (-:

Plumbum

[thumbup]

HappySeller2014

Fair enough three. The answer is probably NEVER. And I think you know that already.

niceund

Is this the same person who closes schools because of 2 snowflakes?

sevenstones1000

So, schools need to close immediately when it starts raining. Got it.

HappySeller2014

Seven, it amazes me that "remnants of Hurrican Ida" fails to register with you. When the tracking line for days has IDA passing right over Frederick City, I am at a loss to understand how some folks keep their heads in the sand. But you and Alban proof those folks exist. Got it.[whistling]

Fredginrickey

[thumbup]

Hayduke2

How many remnants of hurricanes have passed through over the years. Did schools close ? Come on man.

gabrielshorn2013

Lots, and nope.. Isabel in 2003, which was far worse, and multiple tornadoes touching down in FredCo. There are more at: https://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/news/2012/10/26/hurricanes-that-hit-maryland-the-hardest.html

Plumbum

No.

Schools need to dismiss / close when floors watches and flood warnings are in effect. As was the case for Alli of frederick co

mcrider

No, you evidently don’t “get it”. As neither does Alban, obviously. It isn’t rocket science.

bpsws

Alban told the News-Post on Thursday that her dismissal decision was made on the advice of first responders and emergency management personnel, who were monitoring the forecast and didn’t anticipate the severity of the storms." All day, I was receiving alerts on my cell phone warning of dangerous flash floods and tornados in Frederick County. What is so magical about the 11:00 a.m. decision point other than the need to provide lunch? I would rather my child be safe at home than in the dangers of a fierce storm. I am sure the same students were pretty hungry by the time they got home, some as late as 7:00 p.m. And has the superintendent thanked all of the teachers, many who have their own young children at home. who stayed at schools until students could safely leave?

Fredginrickey

[thumbup]

Plumbum

Alban’s comments regarding the storm are showing she lack competency to make weather related decisions.

Aslan19

@bpsws, if you don't want your child to be in a potentially dangerous situation, like driving through the remnants of a hurricane, then you should have kept him/her home. Stop trying to pass the buck.

BlueFredneck

@aslan19, my wife and I sent our kids in the (apparently mistaken) belief that they knew something we didn't. I don't have a safety and first responder staff on quick dial. Dr. Alban does. Or, do you think it'd have somehow gone better with dozens/hundreds of parents showing up between 11am-1:30pm expecting their kids to be sent home in vehicles that aren't as safe for students as school buses?

shiftless88

I will start by saying that I do not know for sure, but in changing the dismissal time by two hours you have to get all the bus drivers coordinated and make sure that they are in place two hours earlier than normal. If you want to dismiss at 1 pm you have to have time to let the process play out. Drivers have to stop what they are doing and shift their schedule, get to their buses and get the buses to the school. Again, I do not know for sure but that alone seems like reason to need a buffer of time.

cyntiast

11 a.m. is based on school bus logistics. The buses are being used for other forms of pupil transportation such as with career and tech.

shiftless88

jinx! :-)

HappySeller2014

The Frederick County community has lost its faith in Alban. Not only for this flooding incident, but also for a complete lack of COVID quarantine contingency planning, which she had all summer to research and implement.

If the FCPS SChool Board does not act to remove her from her position, the Frederick County community will lose faith in the School Board.

If this debacle is allowed to stand, with no one yet again being held accountable and punished, the only situation that will ever result in the FCPS School Board growing a backbone is dead bodies floating down roaring floodwaters.

Think I am being overly dramatic? I dare the FNP to write up its next article from the perspective and eye witness accounts of the bus drivers, rrscue workers, kids and parents who went through these three bus flooding incidents. Let's here what the Frederick County citizens actually impacted by this situation feel. Would be an amazing human interest story and put this situation into a first hand account perspective we could all gain valuable information from.

Alban can be as defensive as she wants. Her actions, and lack of actions, this past Wednesday, are indefensible. Anyone at her salary level, and scope of command, who uses the term "unexpected" in written communication to her constituents to describe Wednesday's weather developments, must be fired.

Awteam2021

Yes, you’re right: The term “debacle” is overly dramatic. 🙇‍♂️

Chuck Jenkins was on WFMD 93 AM (Maryland Live) yesterday. He said, in all his years living in Frederick, he never saw a storm like this and found no fault with Terry Alban closing schools on time. Jenkins said the roads flooding so fast was unpredictable. He went on to say this happened so suddenly and so quickly with such heavy amounts of rain that in could have happened even if schools closed two hours earlier. It wasn’t an accumulative event, like snow.

HappySeller2014

So, let's drag Chuck into this. If what you are saying is true, both he and Alban are either clueless, incompetent, or trying to cover their rear ends.

Again, the Hurricane IDA remnants were tracking directly over Frederick City and County for days, and flood warnings and watches had been posted.

Do folks really need the 3rd coming of Jesus screaming dire warnings of gloom and doom to be convinced dangerous conditions were on their way?

Awteam2021

No need to be so snippy … I don’t have a dog in this fight. Just telling you what he said. The interview will be on the WFMD website in a couple of days. Take it for what it’s worth.

https://www.wfmd.com/mid-maryland-live/

Also, dangerous conditions are always on their way🤷‍♂️

BlueFredneck

From the Sheriff's Office posted on Facebook at 12:41pm on the *31st*:

"With some of the current weather projections, Frederick County may receive up to 7" of rain between this evening and Thursday. This will cause heavy flooding and standing water on the roadways.

"Listen in as FCSO Corporal Greg Morton reminds us all on the hazards of flooded rivers, creeks, and waterways and standing water on the roads and sidewalks

Remember "Turn Around, Don't Drown." Please be safe when out traveling through the heavy rain, wind, and storm predicted to hit this area within the next 24 hours."

But yeah, it was totally unpredictable.

HappySeller2014

Yes. "Unexpected..." said no one (except Alban)...

Take that to the bank and see if you can cash it!

Awteam2021

… and Jenkins.

NewMarketParent

@HappySeller2014

I think you are right on the money here. I think everyone is in CYA mode now and the finger-pointing is the pinnacle of blame-storming (like brainstorming, but for blame).

HappySeller2014

Like the pun, NMP. I wonder if Alban is suprised about the beautiful day outside yesterday and today.

I anticipated and expected it. Heard from numerous sources it was gonna be beautiful.

NewMarketParent

@HappySeller2014

Same, bruh, same.

What I find incredibly hilarious that no one talks about is that Alban is the board's only employee. That crap about Barrett asking for a resignation is really bad grandstanding.

rwaesche

I’m happy to see Sue Johnson approach the situation in a constructive and intelligent fashion. I bet she’ll get a lot further than those who prefer inflammation and grandstanding. Thank you, Sue, for validating my vote for you with the behavior I expect of a public official. So refreshing.

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