Glitch kept call about Athens High bomb threat from reaching parents

Published: Aug. 20, 2015 at 6:31 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 17, 2015 at 7:35 PM CDT
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ATHENS, AL (WAFF) - Athens school officials say a glitch kept the district's phone notification system from working during Wednesday's bomb threat at Athens High School.

Students returned to class Thursday after the bomb threat forced an evacuation Wednesday. Meanwhile, some parents are upset because they never received phone notification from the school system. Superintendent Trey Holladay said the Athens City Schools system did send out a recorded message, but there was a glitch and only a small percentage of parents got that call.

As they did Tuesday when a student reported seeing a threat written on a restroom wall, Athens City Schools first put messages about the bomb threat Wednesday on social media. Holladay said within 45 minutes to an hour of the threat, they sent out the recorded phone message, which included information for parents about picking up their children. Holladay said that call should have gone to 4,000 primary phone numbers, but it only reached 700. He said that was because the numbers for Athens High sophomores, juniors and seniors who are already in the system did not get uploaded for the new school year. So, the only numbers the call reached were for new students.

Holladay said they are fixing the problem.

"Normally, we'll get a notice from the state or the service the state utilizes telling us, 'Hey, you have some data that didn't roll.' Because we're still so early in the school year, we hadn't had that. So, that was the problem yesterday," Holladay said. "We had some data that did not roll over. And so now technology is making sure that gets rolled over."

Holladay said it appears a few parents held their kids out of school today because of the threats this week. On an average day, Athens High has about 30 absences. Thursday, they had 40.

Athens police say the bomb threat cost the department about $2,200. The department is still working to determine the source of the threat.

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