Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Errant robocall from Pinellas schools gives parents a rude awakening

ST. PETERSBURG — The last day before the first day of school is supposed to be a final exercise of summer freedom, with an emphasis on sleeping in.

But a predawn phone call Sunday from the Pinellas County School District jolted hundreds of bleary-eyed parents out of bed with a one-minute recorded "welcome back" message from the superintendent.

Welcome back, indeed.

According to parents' Facebook posts and Twitter messages, their phones began ringing around 6 a.m. Those who answered woke up to the sound of superintendent Michael Grego's recorded voice reminding them that the county's public schools reopen today and encouraging them to talk to their children about their goals for the upcoming academic year.

A school district spokeswoman said Sunday that the robocalls, which the district pays California-based company SchoolMessenger to distribute, were intended to go out that evening instead.

Shortly after noon Sunday, the district sent out a second automated phone message to parents, apologizing for the wake-up calls.

"It certainly was not the district's intent for the call to be delivered at the time most families received it. The district apologizes for this unexpected disturbance and is investigating the reason for the error," spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra wrote in an email.

In the hours after the call, dozens of parents went online to make their complaints known. In Facebook posts filled with a sense of betrayal and laced with the occasional expletive, they commiserated with one another over losing what amounts to a national holiday, if an unnamed one. Some joked — or maybe not — about calling Grego's home in the wee hours of the morning.

"It was like the last day to sleep in, and it was a really rude awaking," said Barbara Walker, 48, who has two children in Pinellas schools.

At 6 a.m. her landline phone and cellphone began ringing one after the other, sending her scrambling out of bed, alarmed there might be an emergency.

In a daze, she answered, catching snippets of the recording.

"It was like in Charlie Brown," she said. "I heard blah, blah, blah."


to school

It's time again for drivers to be on the alert for school speed zones, kids walking to and from school, and yellow buses on the roads.

TODAY: Public school students in the Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando school districts start classes for the 2013-14 academic year.

Tuesday: Students in the Hillsborough County School District start classes.

Errant robocall from Pinellas schools gives parents a rude awakening 08/18/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 18, 2013 11:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New poll shows tight St. Pete mayor's race


    A few hours after Rick Baker bested Mayor Rick Kriseman in a post-debate straw poll, a local pollster released a survey conducted the same day showing a considerably closer race.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker answers a question during the mayoral candidate forum at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday. Mayor Rick Kriseman is in the foreground.
  2. Review: Mark Bowden's 'Hue 1968' a gripping, and timely, history


    More than 40 years after it ended, America's war in Vietnam is still contentious, still misunderstood, and fast slipping into the fog of history.

     On Feb. 15, 1968, U.S. Marines carry out an assault on Dong Ba Tower in Hue, South Vietnam. In the battle for the tower, six men died and 50 were wounded.
  3. Bitcoin, ransomware fraudster Anthony Murgio of Tampa sentenced to prison


    Tampa's Anthony Murgio, 33, was sentenced Tuesday to 5-1/2 years in prison for running a bitcoin exchange suspected of laundering money for a group of hackers who targeted publishing and financial firms as part of a complex securities fraud.

    Anthony Murgio of Tampa, 33, was sentenced Tuesday to 5 1/2 years in prison for running a Bitcoin exchange suspected of laundering money for a group of hackers who targeted publishing and financial firms as part of a complex securities fraud. [AP photo]
  4. Florida education news: Athletic trainers, signing bonuses, student vaccinations and more


    SAFETY FIRST: Pasco County school district leaders decide to retain high school athletic trainers, which had been slated for elimination, amid pleas from …

  5. Rays morning after: Why Alex Cobb was out of the game and Alex Colome was in


    Alex Cobb obviously did a really good job pitching the first eight innings for the Rays on Tuesday.