School messenger system used at “principal’s discretion”

FOX10 News is getting answers from a Mobile county public school board member about the use of the school messenger system.

The system is used to contact parents, at the principal’s discretion, about a number of things including emergencies, attendance and reminders about school events.

In some cases parents are not alerted when a school goes under lockdown, like a recent incident at J.E Turner Elementary School.

A contractor’s truck was stolen off of campus and the victim was injured.

“If it’s serious enough to have the school put on lockdown I think it would be serious enough to notify the parents,” Ashley McKerchie.

Parents like Ashley Mckerchie, who has a kindergartner at J.E Turner, wants to know every time the school is locked down.

“If I’m going to trust somebody to take care if my child for 8 hours, I want to know what’s going on during those 8 hours whether it’s an emergency or violent or not,” said McKerchie.

Dr. William Foster, a Mobile County School Board member and former principal of 32 years, said a principal’s first priority is making sure the children are safe.

“First and foremost, before making calls to anybody, it’s a principals responsibility to do what he or she can to ensure the safety if those children. That’s the very first thing that you do,” said Foster.

He said once the situation is handled, the principal decides if the event warrants alert to parents.

” As a principal you have to judge those kinds of things and certainly we support those decisions,” said Foster.

Foster says every situation is different and in some cases an alert may add panic to a situation a principal is trained to handle.

Foster said he believes the principal knows best.

“My grandchildren attend public school. I know and feel secure knowing that the principal of that school and those people who I’ve known for years as principals in Mobile county are going to handle this situation appropriately and take care of my children,” said Foster.

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