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Broward School District Apologizes For After-Hour Robo Calls

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(Source: browardschools.com)

(Source: browardschools.com)

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The Broward County Public School District has issued an apology to tens of thousands of people who received sleep disturbing, after hours robo calls late Monday night and early Tuesday morning.

The robo calls featured a male voice, saying, “This is an important message from Broward County Public Schools.”

The automated call went on to promote a program urging people who did not get their high school diplomas to return and get one.

“It’s not too late to graduate!” the robo call declared.

Barrie Shanahan, a wife and mother of two, was awakened at 4:38 a.m.

“The first thing I thought was, I got really scared,” Shanahan told CBS4’s Gary Nelson.  Her husband, Brian, works overnights for CBS4 News as a photographer.

“I’m like, ‘Oh, my God, something’s wrong with him,’ and I picked up the phone, and I got the recording.”

Officials first reported more than 100,000 homes received the robo call, but later lowered the number to 73,000 citing “duplicate numbers,” indicating that some people were called more than once.

Tracy Clark, a spokesperson for Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, said “the timing” of the calls “was less than ideal.”

In apologies delivered through the media, on Facebook and Twitter, the school system pointed blame at its robo call contractor.

The District said the cause of the problem was a default setting, which normally restricts calls from being delivered after hours, was inadvertently over-ridden by the service provider (ParentLink).

ParentLink, based in Provo, Utah, issued a lengthy statement and apology through the media.  The company said it will also apologize directly to parents and employees who were inconvenienced.

The District said corrective and preventive measures have been taken to ensure that this doesn’t happen again and it regrets the unfortunate incident.

Barrie Shanahan was perplexed that she received a robo call promoting a program for folks to go back and get their high school diplomas.

“I have a bachelor’s degree in education,” she said.

“I realize everybody makes mistakes, but that was a big one.” Shanahan added.

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth largest public school system in the United States and the second largest in the state of Florida.

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