Reporting Lauren Leamanczyk
TEWKSBURY (CBS) – A Tewskbury elementary school is apologizing to parents after accidentally sending out an automated call to more than 200 families saying their kids were not in class.
Wendy Gagnon says she experienced pure terror Tuesday morning when she got that message from Heath Brook elementary school saying her son Jake was absent. Like other parents, she feared the worst.
“Complete and utter panic because you think your kids in school and now you’re being told he’s not,” she said. “It’s terrifying…Terrifying because you do have those thoughts.”
More than 200 families got the phone call, it also went to secondary contacts and work and cell phones.
The school has only two phone lines so parents couldn’t get through. Wendy called Tewksbury Police. Their lines were inundated too.
Diane Hill’s hands are still shaking. She couldn’t get a hold of anyone to find out where her daughter was. She feared the girl had been kidnapped. So she rushed to the school to check.
“I saw all the police and all the cars and the parents crying,” she said of the scene.
Parents were allowed to go see their children and hug them once they arrived at the school.
School Superintendent John O’Connor says the problem stemmed from a computer glitch with a new automated system.
“We feel for all of the parents. We know that our error caused them to have a great deal of emotional distress and we apologize to each and every one of them,” he said.
He vowed to fix the problem so parents won’t face the same terror again.
Wendy Gagnon says after the mix up, the school handled the situation the best they could, sending two letters home to explain and apologize.
“Do I ever want it to happen again? Absolutely not,” she said. “Do I think the Tewksbury school district is fantastic? I do. And I think they will absolutely resolve it.”
The school district has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday night at Heath Brook School to help answer parents’ questions.