What we have here is a...

Our school district has an automatic notification system. It's one of those dealios where you provide every possible means of contact, and when the district wants to send information home or make some sort of emergency announcement, you'll receive fifty seven eleven hundred thousand auto-messages from the school district.

I really don't mind it. I just have to remember to provide only one or two lines of communication instead of every single phone number and email address I have.

But that's not the failure in this line of communication.

This morning at oh-dawn-thirty, we received an auto-message from the school robot voice system that said there would be no district transportation (in my day we called those "school buses") today due to an oil pipeline leak at the transportation center ("bus garage"). I didn't think too much about it, since The Tweenager rides his bike to school.

I didn't think too much of it, but you should remember this first message, as it plays prominently in the story.

About fifteen minutes after he left on said bike, he returned home and I received this (non-automated) phone call from Diva Husband.

DH: The Tweenager's home.
Me: Why?
DH: Apparently a "suspicious package" was found in the school parking lot and they sent all the kids home while the police investigate.

Uhm. Okay. Good to know that they're doing their jobs. Then I received another phone call, this time from auto-message. It confirmed what DH had told me, said that school would be cancelled for the day while the matter was investigated, and to please come get your children.

Later I heard again from DH that there was apparently a similar package found at another elementary school in our district. It was a canister duct taped to a light post, just like the one at our school, and the police were handling this as well, but a prankster was suspected.

I have to say that our district handled things VERY well. They were advised by the police and village officials to proceed with "highest caution", particularly in light of tomorrow's 9/11 anniversary. Children and school staffs were removed immediately to safe locations and parents were notified in an extremely timely manner.

Again, clearly not the failure.

The failure was discovered around 3 pm when I received ANOTHER auto-message. Apparently a total of five schools in our district found the mystery canisters taped to light poles in parking lots.


All placed by the Environmental Protection Agency to measure air quality at the schools due to...

Do you remember that first phone call?

...the early morning leak in the oil pipeline at the transportation center.

And here's the failure, folks. That wonderful governmental agency placed these unknown canisters on the grounds of FIVE schools in the district and neglected to notify a single village official, school district official, law enforcement officer or fire protection district.

School District Communication System: A
Environmental Protection Agency: F



Anonymous said...

Classic example! Very funny story and I'm so glad the district received an A from you. I was worried that they were going to do something wrong as the story went on. Nice unexpected ending. :)

Anonymous said...


You've got to be kidding...but Thank God it was that. (You had me really worried cosidering tomorrow's date.)