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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Alachua County Public Schools mistakenly warns of active shooter

The message was sent out to about 2,000 family members of ACPS employees and former employees

<p>A sign in front of the Alachua County Public Schools district office building is seen Sunday, June 6, 2021.</p>

A sign in front of the Alachua County Public Schools district office building is seen Sunday, June 6, 2021.

A week after a Fort Clarke middle schooler was arrested for bringing a loaded gun to school, families across the county received an accidental message from Alachua County Public Schools alerting them of an active shooter Thursday morning. It was corrected 30 minutes after it was sent.

The message was intended for select administrators, ACPS spokesperson Jackie Johnson said. A technical issue occurred when they were testing a state-mandated mobile panic alert system, according to ACPS’ statement. Only families of an employee or former employee of the district received the message. Some of the recipients were parents, but the message was not sent to a parent list, Johnson said. 

Courtney Scott has two children who attend Fort Clarke and Hidden Oak elementary schools.  The 39-year-old was working in his food truck, Rastafar Ice when he received the district's follow up apology. He said he was initially worried in light of last week’s arrest at Fort Clarke. 

The May 13 incident followed the May 14 Buffalo supermarket shooting, where an 18-year-old white male killed 10 people in a predominantly Black neighborhood. 

Scott said he felt lucky his children were with him when he received the message.

He said he hopes the mishap prevents any technical issues so the alert will go to the right people in the event of an actual emergency. 

The alert was sent at 10:15 a.m. through the Intrado Safety Shield system, which is used exclusively to alert administrators and law enforcement of emergencies.

ACPS apologized for the false alert and ensured no active shooters infiltrated any campuses in a statement on its Facebook. 

It also sent out an additional message to all parents 30 minutes after the initial alert through its Skyalert system, which is used exclusively to notify parents of emergencies. 

"An alert went out about an active shooter on an ACPS campus,” the message said. “There is NO active shooter on any campus. This was a TEST and we apologize for the error."

Contact Fernando at ffigueroa@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @fernfigue.


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