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Roseville schools use a variety of tools to connect with parents

Gone are the days of sending notes home with students
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Roseville High School parent Ken Bolingbroke had a little problem: All of the email messages he had received from campus administration since the start of the academic year were audio.

Both he and his wife are deaf. So he could “click here to listen to the message” but he couldn’t find out what happened.

“Are my kids having problems in school?” he wrote to the Press Tribune. “Have they skipped some classes? Is there anything blocking my daughter’s graduation next spring? I have no idea.”

Bolingbroke has since communicated directly with staff at the Roseville Joint Union High School District office and the glitch has been fixed. Next time he gets a message, it will be transcribed in the body of an email.

The incident shows how schools are increasingly using technology to communicate more directly and quickly with parents.

Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Services Ron Severson said all parents should be encouraged to notify their school or contact the district office if they are not receiving notices or want to change the message format.

“We can accommodate any person’s needs,” Severson said. “We’ll go the extra mile, especially for (a parent) with special needs.”

The local high school district distributes notices through SchoolMessenger, a service provided by a Santa Cruz-based company that connects schools to parents, students and staff through voice mail, audio messages, text messages, email and social media.

Severson said parents can choose which format they prefer. They might want a phone call at their work number, so their child doesn’t get home first and erase a message left on an answering machine. Or they might want a text message they will likely see immediately.

These messages can be translated into several languages, including Spanish and Russian.

“When there is something of serious concern, we use the messaging service to get something out,” Severson said.

This can include alerting parents to a campus lockdown, school shooting or suspicious incident. The notification system was used in late August when a parent reported a van full of men behaving suspiciously in the Roseville High School parking lot.

The system was also used to remind parents about the new law that requires all seventh through 12th graders to provide proof of having had the Tdap vaccine, which immunizes against whooping cough.

The district also uses what are called eSchool resources, which can help keep parents informed.

This includes Blackboard, an online learning site where teachers post assignments, and Homelink, which provides information on student attendance and grades. Each student has an account, and parents can access this online information if they have the password.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.