07/28/04 — Glitch in school phone system causes sleepless nights

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Glitch in school phone system causes sleepless nights

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 28, 2004 2:05 PM

The last days before school starts are expected to prompt sleepless nights -- but not because of repeated calls from the school.

A glitch in programming the automated phone system at Eastern Wayne Elementary School caused some residents to receive calls throughout the night.

The calls began at about 6 p.m. Tuesday and continued until about 7:30 this morning. When the calls were answered there was no one on the line. The calls continued every half hour.

Olivia Pierce, executive director for community relations with the school system, said the problem was not related to the recently acquired notification service designed to improve emergency preparedness and communication with parents.

"That is a system-wide system," she said. "That hasn't been implemented yet."

She said each school in the county has its own automated calling system that notifies families about attendance and events such as open house, which are this week.

"Apparently they have used it every year to notify parents about open house," she said. "But in setting it up, somebody mis-keyed it. The timing mechanism wasn't set appropriately."

She said that in her investigation, the problem did not originate from the central schools office, and Eastern Wayne Elementary was the only school involved.

Mrs. Pierce said several calls had been received this morning from other parents with children at the school who had experienced the problem. She apologized for any inconvenience or disturbance the situation caused.

Veda McNair, principal at the elementary school, said the problem has been resolved.

"We cut it off," she said of the automated system.

"We apologize for any inconvenience, and it's been worked out."