Some Stumbles In Fort Bend ISD's Notification System

How did some Fort Bend ISD students learn this morning that school had been canceled?

Some guy drove up to their bus stop and told them. They trudged home from there.

These days, you'd think any school district too big for the old phone-tree would have a computer system that would make automatic calls to parents in emergency situations.

Fort Bend does indeed have one, but the district didn't use it this morning.

Essentially, spokesperson Mary Ann Simpson tells Hair Balls, the district decided not to bother.

"We have a service we can use that can call all households -- but the media began announcing it immediately, so it was decided we did not need to do the call out to 68,000 homes -- that word was getting out quickly," she says.

But it might've helped, she admits.

The decision to cancel classes was made at 6 am, she says. "The weather, and the rapid rate at which it unfolded this morning, was remarkable. By 6:00 am, some of our high school students are already on their way to the bus stop for school. So I know some were caught off guard," she says.

But the district did everything it could short of using the automated message, she says: "I called all the TV stations by 6:05 and had something on the website by 6:10 am. Also, the phone message on the main district line was changed quickly to say we were closed."

Which didn't help at least one parent, who called her kid's school only to get a terse confirmation from a harried teacher who said she couldn't talk longer because she had another 100 or so calls waiting for her to answer.

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