CLEARWATER — Thousands of parents hoping to sleep in one more morning before the start of school today got an unexpected call from Pinellas County Superintendent Michael Grego about 6 a.m. Sunday.
Those who answered their phones heard a recorded message from Grego welcoming students and families to the new school year and asking parents to talk with students about their goals.
The calls were scheduled to go out to all of the parents of the school district’s roughly 104,000 students.
About noon, the district followed up with a conciliatory call, apologizing for jolting parents out of bed.
“The automated phone message that reached Pinellas County Schools families this morning welcoming them to the new school year was intended to go out in the evening. It certainly was not the district’s intent for the call to be delivered at the time most families received it,” said school district spokeswoman Melanie Marquez Parra in an email. “The district apologizes for this unexpected disturbance and is investigating the reason for the error.”
The school district contracts with School Messenger to distribute the pre-recorded phone calls.
Grego, who entering his first full school year as superintendent after being hired in September 2012, could not be reached for comment.
The timing was obviously a mistake, said Rod Quilitz, who is sending his two boys back to Douglas L. Jamerson Elementary in St. Petersburg today, but a jarring one nonetheless.
“Luckily I was awake, but my wife and kids weren’t, and we certainly didn’t appreciate getting a very unnecessary and very generic call that early in the morning on a Sunday,” Quilitz said. “The whole thing is kind of ludicrous, an annoyance, but one that was obviously a mistake and that I’m willing to forgive.”