Plano school buses left campus during lockdown




Posted on April 5, 2012 at 6:39 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 8 at 9:36 AM

PLANO - Crucial. That is the best way to describe decisions made during tornadic weather like we had Tuesday. But communication is another important word, and something didn't go right at some North Texas schools, potentially putting children in harm's way in the Plano Independent School District.

On Wednesday, news 8 told you about some elementary students in McKinney who walked home as sirens blared.

Now, a Plano couple is wondering how their 10-year-old could be aboard a school bus in the middle of those violent storms, even as they hunkered down in a closet      

It happened fast.

"When Pete told his wife to get in the closet, considering where he lives and where we live, we decide we're going to stay in the closet," said Jeff Dworkin, a Plano parent.

Minutes later, the storms roared through Plano. Dworkin and his wife took cover in their walk-in closet.  About 30 minutes later, much to their surprise, the door bell rang.  

“We came out of the closet quickly and went to the door,” Dworkin said. “And having a glass front door, we can see straight through it, and there's my ten year old son, absolutely petrified."

Plano schools were locked down. But somehow, at Centennial Elementary, four buses were allowed to leave.  

Centennial principal Janet Napoli sent this message to parents:

“In hindsight, I wish I had more district information, so I would have known I needed to hold back all buses and lock down the building earlier than I did."

The principal said district transportation officials said it was safe. But interim superintendent Richard Matkin called it a mistake.

"The contact between the Central Office and the campus didn't occur as it should have been,” said Matkin. “So I would characterize it as a breakdown in communication that should never happen."

Dworkin said he does not want to think about what could have happened to his son and other kids on the buses.

“We saw all the pictures of the tractor-trailers down off 30 being lifted into the air,” he said. “Can you imagine a school bus full of children, and that same thing happens?”