Parents panic due to mistaken message - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Mis-dialed robo-call panics Henrico parents

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – A major misdial sends Henrico parents into a panic. It happened Monday morning at Greenwood Elementary School in Glen Allen.

Hundreds of parents got an automated phone call or e-mail telling them their children were not in school,  when, in fact, they were...sending the parents scrambling to figure out what was really going on. 

Shenna Rose watched her young daughter go off to kindergarten Monday morning, and everything was going just fine until the 10:00 a.m. robo-call saying her daughter was absent from school. Shenna was scared to death. 

"I mean, I had seen her go on the bus and then they said that she wasn't there, so I was thinking, did she get stuck on the bus? Did she go to another school? So, I started freaking out," Shenna explained.

So did a lot of people. The automated message system that was supposed to dial about 20 parents of absentee students, instead dialed 400 parents of children who were already in school. For the next 15 minutes, parents flooded the school with calls. 

"No question. There was calls of concern and panic from parents, and rightfully so," said Mychael Dickerson, Henrico County Public School Spokesperson. 

Police even took calls about possible missing children. 

"We expect that type of response. If you hear that your child is not at school and you know that they should be, and so we understand, and that's why we wanted to get the corrected communication out as soon as possible," Dickerson said. 

An hour later, another call went out that stated: "Please accept our apology and assurance that your child is safe at school." 

The school admitted there was an unspecified glitch. By then, Shenna had called her daughter's teacher, and her worries were no more. 

"I'm sure a lot of parents was freaking out a little bit. But it wasn't too bad since I had her [teacher's] cell phone number. If not, I probably would've ended up at the school," she said. 

School authorities say they won't hesitate to use the notification system again.

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