Glitch puts whole school in detention

01:02, Apr 11 2013
detention text
MIXED MESSAGES: The text message sent out to parents of Waimea College students today, followed by the retraction sent when the school discovered the error.

Oops - a mass text message told parents of the 1500 students at Waimea College their child was on detention after school today.

The message also told parents to contact their child's tutor. That sparked an instant response, with numerous parents calling the college.

Principal Larry Ching confirmed multiple text messages had been sent to "most if not all" of the 1500 parents on Waimea's text-notification system yesterday notifying that their child was expected to show up for detention after school today.

"We have 1500 students who theoretically are on detention but in actual fact very few of them are," he said.

The first round of notifications was sent at about 11am, followed by at least one more mass text containing the same message. The school was alerted to the anomaly by a parent and sent out an apology and correction by 11.30am.

Mr Ching described the situation as a "software glitch" generated by the school's Textstream text messaging system. He said there were a few minor malfunctions when the software was first installed about five years ago, but this was the first incident of its kind since then.


"When you get a goodie, you get a goodie, don't you?" Mr Ching said. "I'm sure there are parents among that number with children who have never had a detention in their lives, and are wondering what the heck is going on."

Parent Jacqui Pestell said it appeared every parent had received the text message.

She was having coffee with a friend who also has a child at the college when they each received the message. She tried to call the school but it was continuously engaged.

"I guess they've got a lot of parents calling who are wondering what's happening," she said.

Commenters on the Nelson Mail's Facebook page were mostly amused by the glitch, although some children faced angry mothers before the problem was sorted out.

Facebook user Julie Winter-Morel said her son was "going to be in trouble" until she checked with the school, while Rachel Limmer wrote that she was "seeing RED" after hearing her son Matt was on detention.

Sheryn Cashman took a more philosophical approach, commenting "Quiet day at our house tomorrow afternoon, 3 children in detention."