Parents caught off-guard by closed Prince George’s schools on ‘Day Without a Woman’

WASHINGTON — Outside a Prince George’s County high school Wednesday morning, some parents were caught off-guard by the last-minute decision to close schools in the county after hundreds of teachers called off work for the “Day Without a Woman” protest.

“I was surprised to see that there was no one here at all,” said Naonnda Scoggins, a mother of a Bowie High School student, who said she planned to drop her daughter off at school. “It was short notice. I didn’t get the alert.”

Prince George’s County Public Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell announced late Tuesday the school system — the second largest in Maryland — would close its doors Wednesday after 1,700 teachers and 30 percent of the transportation staff requested the day off.

“We cannot transport students and provide safe, productive learning environments without adequate staff,” Maxwell said in an email. “As a result, schools will be closed tomorrow for students,” Maxwell said in an email announcing the unplanned closure.

Classes also were canceled at Alexandria City Public Schools after more than 300 staffers requested the day off, according to ACPS Superintendent Alvin Crawley. The day was considered a teacher workday at Alexandria Schools.

In Prince George’s County Schools teachers who had not requested the day off were expected to report to work, Maxwell said.

Christetta Stone, an English teacher at Bowie High, told WTOP she was aware that “parents were surprised by the timing,” adding “a lot of parents had to figure out adjustments.”

Although Stone did not take the day off for the demonstration, she said she fully supports the people who chose to do so.

“We’re individual citizens and we can participate in protests or any other demonstrations that we’d like to,” she said. “It’s also important because we have to be an example for our students, and we have to remind them that they have a right to participate in the political and democratic process in our nation.”

The nationwide demonstration was organized by the same groups that hosted January’s Women’s March, which drew massive crowds in D.C. the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

The protest, which coincides with International Women’s Day, encourages women to take they day off, to avoid shopping and to wear red to recognize the socioeconomic impact women make.

Both school systems said they were not taking a political stance on the protests but had made their decision based on staffing needs.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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