Douglas County School District cites more problems with its emergency communication system

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. - Douglas County School District says it is investigating why some parents did not receive an emergency alert Tuesday after a chemical incident at one of its charter schools.

SkyView Academy was evacuated at 10:20 a.m. Tuesday, after a chemical device was set-off inside a classroom.

Tuesday evening, the charter school wrote this paragraph as part of a statement posted to Facebook:

"We are aware of the communication issues during the notification process. We have been in contact with the Douglas County School District on this matter, and are trying to determine the cause as we feel we exercised all our appropriate options to get everyone notified. Rest assured we will fix the issue and we understand how important it is that our families receive timely and accurate information in an emergency."

7NEWS contacted the district to seek clarification what the "communication issues" were.

"Safety is our top priority in the Douglas County School District," said spokeswoman Paula Hans. "We continually seek ways to improve our notification systems. Our focus remains on finding a permanent, reliable solution. Regarding the January 14 incident, a small number SkyView Academy parents/guardians were not successfully contacted. Possible reasons include busy signals, disconnected numbers and a filter setting issue which has since been rectified."

"We are working diligently to continually improve our notification system, as communicating with our parents is critical during an incident. DCSD staff members are moving as quickly as possible to analyze the current system and look at other notification systems utilized by other school districts," Hans added. 

Meanwhile, one parent wrote on the district's Facebook page, "I DO have 2 kids at SkyView and did not get the email...that is concerning. I knew because my child texted me from the school. And yes my preferences are updated correctly in Infinite Campus."

Infinite Campus is the messaging system DCSD uses to notify parents during an emergency. It sends emails, phone calls and text messages.

During the Arapahoe High School shooting on Dec. 13th, the district attempted to send an alert to all parents notifying them about the situation but 73,000 alerts were not received until hours later.

7NEWS talked to the district and Infinite Campus at the time. The district said IC's software could not handle the volume. Meanwhile, Infinite Campus employee Eric Creighton told 7NEWS Reporter Lindsey Sablan the district had not updated the software and was not using 'best practices.'

Dec. 31st, the district tested the system saying:

“The test followed a series of system improvements.  The initial results were positive.  Phone call alerts were sent at a rate of 117,643 in 36 minutes translating into a much quicker opportunity to notify parents in the event of an emergency.  66,952 email messages were sent in just over two hours...Our goal is to continuously improve and we will continue to conduct periodic tests.”

7NEWS has made multiple requests since the Arapahoe High School shooting Dec. 13 to interview the IT director or superintendent regarding the issues; however, all the requests have been denied. Calls and emails placed Wednesday have not yet been returned.

Since Tuesday's incident at SkyView, the sheriff's office said it has arrested the two students involved. Both boys are students at SkyView. The district attorney's office has not formally charged the boys.

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