Alert Sent Students Under Tables, Desks. Parents Furious Friday Night.
BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2022 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — A malfunction of the Palm Beach County School District’s “Code Red” system led to tense — and intense — moments at several schools Friday morning. While children were ordered under desks and tables, into bathrooms, and behind locked doors, parents were notified by robocall that a “code red” was in effect. Code Red alerts are issued for potentially lethal events, like a gunman on campus.
It turned out the “code red” was a false alarm, not a drill. Sources within the Palm Beach County School District told BocaNewsNow.com Friday night that someone with access to a School District administrative computer application accidentally “clicked” several schools from a list on Thursday as part of an internal test. Those schools were never “unclicked” once the internal test was over. When a teacher in an unnamed school accidentally depressed an emergency button on Friday, it immediately activated a code red alert at ALL of the “clicked” schools across Palm Beach County.
Parents tell BocaNewsNow.com that their children in West Boca Raton’s Whispering Pines elementary school were among those panicked as alarms sounded and the words “RED ALERT” appeared on screens in classrooms and throughout the building. Teachers, believing this was real and not a drill, strictly ordered children to hide.
“My kids thought they were going to die,” said a parent. “And there has been no direct message from the school’s principal. This is unacceptable.”
After investigating the mishap, the Palm Beach County School District issued this generic statement to parents:
“Hello parents and staff, this is the School District of Palm Beach County calling with an update about a ‘false alert’ that occurred this morning at numerous District schools. The notification originated with a DRILL at one of our schools. That notification was inadvertently shared through an app to multiple schools. In an effort to streamline important security information, our alert notification systems are integrated. For that reason, an alert that appeared on one app, rolled over to the Safer Watch emergency alert system and was shared. After researching what happened, the District has confirmed that this was NOT, in any way, an error on the part of Safer Watch. The District is currently working with the vendor of the ‘primary’ app on which the notification of the drill originated, and taking steps to avoid any future situations like this. Again, despite multiple notifications, no schools were threatened or on lockdown.“
It has been a challenging start to the school year which is just days underway. A car slammed into a school bus on the first day of school. A man fleeing a bank robbery slammed into another school bus on the second day of school. And now thousands of students endured panic — fearing a gunman was on the loose — due to a computer error on Friday.
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