MIAMI
01/30/2013 05:26 am ET | Updated Apr 01, 2013

Broward County School Robo Calls Accidentally Wake Up 73,000 Parents At 4 a.m. (VIDEO)

The Broward County School District's automated calling system went haywire this week -- calling 73,000 homes late in the night, sometimes in languages the recipients didn't understand.

"I was in a dead sleep!" said Fort Lauderdale parent Jamie Cohn, whose phone rang at 4 a.m. Tuesday. "Any time you receive a phone call in the middle [of the] night, it makes your heart stop."

School districts typically use robocalls to communicate important messages to parents. The automated messages, sent between 10 p.m. and 4:40 a.m., advertised next month's re-engagement fair for dropouts.

"At first I was worried to have the phone ring that late," said Weston parent Wendy Bossory, who got her call around 11 p.m. Monday. "When I heard the recording I was in disbelief the county would issue generic phone calls so late!"

Gabi Huber Aliaga, of Fort Lauderdale, said she received two calls, both in Spanish. "I didn't understand what they were saying," she said, adding it was " very annoying."

"It was a good message, just bad timing," said Tracy Clark, public information officer for the district. "It was not intended to be intrusive or an inconvenience."

Hollywood parent Veronica Newmeyer said she wasn't upset by the early morning wake-up call. "It was no big deal; mistakes happen," she said.

As soon as she heard an automated voice, she knew it was a district call and quickly hung up. "It was 4 a.m. I wasn't going to listen."

ParentLink, the service provider which handles robocalls for the district, took responsibility for the glitch, attributing it to an accidental override in the system.

"As far as I know, this is an extremely rare situation," said ParentLink's marketing director Adam Bushman.

Both ParentLink and the district apologized to parents in a statement Tuesday.

kyi@tribune.com or 954-747-3033, Twitter: @karen_yi ___

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