School board follows up on social media threat alert

When there was a threat at Eisenhower Middle High School last week, some parents and even teachers did not get the call blast about the situation.

A parent complained about that to the school board on Monday.

“There was a possibility of somebody showing up at the school with guns,” April Lucks said. “We didn’t get to make a choice of whether she would go to school that day.”

She said she found out about the threat Thursday at 2 p.m. and learned that it had been “on social media the night before.”

Lucks said she read that there had been a call blast in a breaking news item on www.timesobserver.com.

“My biggest concern is that we had a pretty serious thing that came up and we didn’t get notified,” she said. “We feel like Warren County School District let us down.”

She said both she and her husband received call blasts that were garbled on another occasion. She played audio of that call for the board.

District officials admitted to problems with the call blast system, but they said there was no danger at the school.

“We don’t know why the technology didn’t do what it was supposed to do,” Superintendent Amy Stewart said. “We knew that we missed more people than we should have on this one.”

“It did not go out to the elementary,” Eisenhower Middle High School Principal Ericka Alm said. “From the teacher side, I had a number of teachers say, ‘I didn’t get it.'”

She said all of those teachers had information on contact cards used to determine the call blast destination that was not current.

Alm said that could have been a problem for parents who did not receive the blast and suggested parents make an effort to provide their current information to the district.

Board President Donna Zariczny suggested that both parents and the district could take steps.

“Parents and staff need to make sure that they information is up to date,” Zariczny said. “I am one of the advocates for the call blast system. I felt it was an important tool to communicate important issues…”

She asked “administration to see if there’s any way to test out the system” with respect to the individual problems Lucks had with the garbled call.

Stewart said district officials conferred with law enforcement late into Wednesday night, determining what actions would be taken and if there was any credible threat.

“I’m not going to call blast at midnight,” she said. “I’m not going to call blast every time a student makes a threat. We have small children that threaten each other every day.”

She did assert that there was no danger. “I would not recommend students go to school if it’s not safe,” she said.

Director of Administrative Support Services Gary Weber said the call blast was mostly meant to help counteract misinformation spread on social media.

“A decade or so ago, we would have never sent the call blast,” Weber said. “It was wrapped up the night before and we had it under control.”

“We also see the social media side and the misinformation that is going out,” he said.