There are myriad lessons from today's tragic shooting outside Westbury High School. One of them: Parents, when you see "Houston Independent School District" on your caller ID, you may want to check your voicemail.
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High schools have been calling parents and leaving automated messages for ages. But they tend to be of the "Don't forget to support our booster club" or "MADD reminds you to talk to your kids about prom" variety. Today, however, the automated message was much more ominous.
Westbury High School principal Eric Coleman used HISD's new automated phone message system today to alert parents about the shooting. The system allowed Coleman to contact 1,116 households within a few minutes. Coleman's message, verbatim:
We had a tragedy outside of Westbury High School, not on the campus, Tuesday morning. A ninth grade student was in a street off campus after school started when he was shot.
The Houston Police Department is investigating this off-campus incident, and our HISD Police Department is assisting. I wanted to call you right away and give you this information because it is important that parents be kept informed.
Sure, we've had fun with HISD in the past, but today, they got it right. This voice mail shows parents that the school is on top of things, and is much more effective than the lame day-after form letter of yore, which, as we know, usually never gets to parents anyway. — Steven Devadanam