Monessen flubs date for first day of school
By Amanda Dolasinski
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Tara Yorty spent an hour curling her daughter's hair Monday as she excitedly prepared for her first day in the fourth grade at Monessen Elementary Center.
Outside the school, her daughter posed for pictures and guessed which of her friends would be in her classes.
Then, Yorty realized something was odd.
"I thought, ‘It doesn't look like there's quite enough cars here today,' but we were early," Yorty said. But as she walked her daughter inside, "there was nobody around."
Yorty's daughter was one of at least 10 students at the district's only elementary school who showed up Monday for the first day of school - a day early - because the Monessen City School District did not notify elementary parents they had changed the start date and posted different dates on its four websites, according to parents and school officials.
"It's not like we had droves and droves of kids coming here," said Superintendent Linda Marcolini. "I've been in education for 26 years and never heard of this. We're trying to get down to the bottom of it."
A newsletter sent to parents of the Westmoreland County district's 950 students in the spring listed Aug. 27 as the first day of school. Yorty said she received no notification of a change.
"I marked it on my calendar," Yorty said. "I had no reason to believe it wouldn't be (the first day). The only people that I knew who knew of the change were people that knew teachers or received a welcome letter from their teacher."
Yorty said she was able to coordinate with her husband to care for their daughter and 4-year-old son. Other parents had to scramble, she said."I know one other parent had to take a personal day," she said.
Administrators in each building are in charge of sending out their own correspondence, Marcolini said
Tracy Thomas, who has a son in fourth grade, said she and her husband noticed that the start dates on two websites differed.
She called the school last week and got a message that referenced the first day of school, "so I just basically guessed they started (Tuesday)," Thomas said. "When I didn't hear school buses go past the house this morning, I knew I got it right."
Joni Skrypak said she was snapping pictures of her two sons' first day of school and thought, ‘Where is everybody?' A lady came out - I guess she works in the office - and said, ‘I'm sorry for the inconvenience.' ... She told us, ‘We had a ton of calls this morning.'"
Parent Laura Bourne said her daughter, a high school student, received a letter that noted the date change.
"Anybody who doesn't have a kid in high school or middle school didn't know about it," she said.
"For me it wasn't' that big a deal, but most mothers I know take off for their kids' first day, so they're going to miss their children's (actual) first day of school," she said. "It was just a big miscommunication."
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