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Cobb County parents question security measures in the wake of Texas school shooting

Millions of tax dollars were spent on a school security system; parents aren't sure it is even operational.

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Parents in Cobb County are sounding the alarm about a security system that malfunctioned in 2021 that they said teachers are not even trained on. 

"Why did this 5.3 million dollar security system malfunction," Heather Tolley-Bauer, parent of a Cobb County student, said. "What was the problem with it?"

The county used $5.3 million in 2017 to install what was supposed to be cutting-edge technology to protect against active shooters. Then in February of 2021, the system was hacked – activating a code red alert in Cobb’s 115 schools.

"Our teachers and our students thought that they were in an active shooter situation," she said. "Which is what a code red is. And literally feared for their lives. Literally feared for their lives. At that moment, for sure, the school knew that there was a problem."

Parents said the system seems like a great idea in theory; teachers wear a lanyard around their neck with a button that alerts police if there’s a threat and show them the school's exact location.

"It would save critical seconds in alerting the authorities to what the problem was and where it was happening," she said.

But parents also said teachers were never trained how to use it.

"The problem was, that critical piece, the badge with a button on it, was never fully realized," Tolley-Bauer said.

Like most parents, she says at the time, Tolley-Bauer felt like the AlertPoint system’s price tag was worth kids’ safety, especially after the mass shooting inside of a Uvalde, Texas elementary school, where 21 people were killed, including 19 kids.

Tolley-Bauer said she and other parents asked the district if the system is even operational or if they have switched to another but could not get any straight answers.

11Alive reached out to the school district, asking how long they had used the AlertPoint system? If they replaced it? And whether all teachers were trained on it? 

The district responded, but not directly to the questions, saying they'd discuss the issue in-depth at a future board meeting. 

"As a mom, I am horrified. I am horrified to know that they knew there was a system that they touted as doing everything it could to keep our kids safe, knowing that it wasn't living up to its promise," Tolley-Bauer said.

 The Cobb County School Board did not provide a date for the board meeting to discuss the AlertPoint system. 

   

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