A petition started this past Tuesday to close school for the rest of the week reached 10,000 signatures on Friday. This is one of the first massively coordinated attempts a student in MCPS has made to influence policy or decision making this year.
The petition was started by SMOB candidate Alex Abrosimov, from Richard Montgomery High School, and quickly gained traction amongst MCPS students and parents.
The petition was addressed to the Board of Education, which technically, has no role in the process of weather-related school closings.
In a statement made on Facebook on Wednesday, Abrosimov cleared up concerns over the true purpose of the petition and The Board’s influence on such matters:
“Hi all, thanks for helping my petition to close school reach 5,000+ signatures! There has been some confusion as to why it was addressed to whom it was addressed and I just wanted to clear that up. I addressed it to the BOE because that was the only option I was given on the website and the BOE’s specific role in events it does not have power over like school closings is to voice concerns. I understand that the superintendent makes the final decision on school closures, and intend to send him a copy of this petition later on. Thanks!”
When MCPS schools were closed Thursday and Friday, many on social media were pleased with what they believed to be a result of the petition.
According to a Washington Post article on the petition, however, MCPS spokesperson Derek Turner said that social media and the petition did not influence the county’s decision to close schools.
Although many have discounted the influence of the petition, since it did not influence the road conditions or other notable factors, social media’s response to the snowstorm could have impacted when MCPS made their decision.
The majority of weather related school closures for the past four years have been decided the morning of the given school day. Many parents struggle to get their children proper day care or other needs when school closures are announced just hours before school was scheduled to start.
The petition was sent Thursday to Superintendent Bowers, the Chief Operating Officer, as well as the Board of Education itself, just hours before MCPS announced the closure of schools for Friday.
Although the impact of this petition is questionable, it is one of the first documented times a petition with over 10,000 signatures has been sent to MCPS officials.
Alex Abrosimov, the organizer of the effort, said that although the goal achieved may seem insignificant, he thinks that this is a sign that students, parents, and teachers in Montgomery County can rally behind focused ideas and plans that ensure the wellbeing of this county’s residents.
“When I opened up the petition and saw that there were 10,000 signatures, I was shocked. It is incredibly uplifting to see that people were willing to rally behind a plan that they thought was important, because the reality was that the streets had not been completely cleared, even by Thursday night.”
Abrosimov also said that he plans to continually be active to gain public opinion as he is running for one of the most prestigious offices the county has to offer for a student, SMOB. “I hope to use petitions continuously, along with my campaigning and lobbying, to fix other issues, like unhealthy school lunches, and taking serious measures like adding more bilingual teachers to ESOL programs to fix the achievement gap. I think those are issues and solutions that people can agree with,” he said.
Article by the MoCo Student Opinions Editor Darian Garcia of Richard Montgomery High School