ROGERSVILLE — According to the Hawkins County School System, an investigation is underway to determine the culprit behind bogus emails to local television stations falsely reporting school closures for Tuesday, February 5.
Monday night’s announcement by television stations WJHL and WCYB reporting school closures for Hawkins County Schools caused confusion and student tardies, today, when parents and students learned that the system would be operating on a two hour delay.
Hawkins County Director of Schools, Charlotte Britton, released the following statement:
“Yesterday afternoon school personnel from Hawkins County Board of Education notified all local area news media stations that Hawkins County Schools would be on a two hour delay. Buses would only run on clear roads. Clinch School would be closed on Tuesday, February 5. Spot checks on area news media confirmed in the early evening the message had been released.
A call and/or text to parents by Hawkins County Schools were issued in the early evening verifying Hawkins County Schools would be on a two hour delay. Buses would only run on clear roads. Clinch School would be closed on Tuesday, February 5, 2013.
Last night, I received a text informing me WJHL’s 11 o-clock news was announcing that Hawkins County Schools were closed. Immediately, I checked WJHL’s website with school closings. I discovered both WJHL and WCYB were announcing that Hawkins County Schools were closed.
WJHL and WCYB were notified immediately of the fact Hawkins County Schools were not closed, but were on a two hour delay. Buses would only run on clear roads. Clinch School would be closed on Tuesday, February 05. The message was changed after the 11 o’clock news was aired.
I have learned, today, that WJHL and WCYB confirmed that three emails were sent to the stations. The emails were allegedly sent from Hawkins County Schools’ School Messenger, Adrian Smith, and Director of Schools, Charlotte Britton, before the 11 o’clock news was aired. No such communication was sent by Hawkins County School Personnel.
Security procedures are in place with area news media to prevent bogus announcements; but, in this isolated case, they were not followed, and the system was compromised. WBIR received the same bogus emails sent to WJHL and WCYB and immediately responded by requesting validation of security. With no response, the status of Hawkins County Schools was not changed at WBIR.
Hawkins County School System is sorry for any confusion this action created for parents, students and personnel. The miscommunication was not the fault of the Hawkins County School System. Both WJHL and WCYB have apologized to Hawkins County Schools for not following the security procedure established by each news station. An investigation is underway to track the bogus emails sent to news media.”
See the weekend edition of The Rogersville Review for follow-up information.
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