PALM BAY — An accidental push of a button Friday had students at Palm Bay High questioning what they'd done wrong and parents plotting punishments.
Parents of all 2,550 students in the school received an automated call Friday reminding them that their student had to report for Saturday morning detention. Problem was, the message only should have gone to 16 homes.
"One of my friends texted me to ask if I had Saturday detention," said Robert Lenoci, 15, of Valkaria. The sophomore is going to the state science fair finals and hasn't been in trouble before.
"I looked and I had a message from mom. She was asking, 'What did you do?' It was pretty bad," he said.
Robert's mother calmed down after talking with other parents and learning something was amiss.
Amy Stewart said after the call that she confronted her son, Jimmy, and he pleaded innocent.
"He said he didn't do anything, but I took him Saturday morning anyway," she said. About 40 students showed up.
That's when Stewart and dozens of other parents learned of the glitch.
"I had yelled at him. I felt so bad, I took him out for breakfast," Stewart said.
Steve Muzzy, assistant superintendent for information technology, said the parent notification system purchased about six years ago from Synrevoice Technology of Canada averages 20,000 calls a week.
He said half are for student absences and the rest for things such as overdue library materials, school calendar events or for emergency communications.
"Very, very rarely do we run across any problems. This was an unfortunate human mistake," he said. School officials said an employee apparently selected the wrong field, sending the message to all students.
Principal John Thomas said by the time the error was discovered, it was 9:30 p.m. and too late to call everyone. But he did send an apology via the system during the weekend.
The 7 to 9 a.m. detention on Saturdays has been in place for some time, for such infractions as repeatedly being late for class.
But the automated system has been used for notification for only about two months.
Stewart just wants to make sure there is no suspension on her son's school record.
"I would hope there wouldn't be," she said.
Aw, man. No dancing in the library, crawling thru air ducts, or poignant essays for these kids.
John Hughes must be sad. Maybe he shed a single tear as he hung his head in grief and walked slowly toward the horizon, looking for a better life, knowing he was leaving his first and only true love from the wrong side of the tracks forever, knowing he was leaving her with...Duckie.