TUSD begins first full school year with ParentLink notification - Tucson News Now

TUSD begins first full school year with ParentLink notification system

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It's equal parts excitement and angst on the first day of class for Tucson's largest school district.

The first day of school on Thursday in the Tucson Unified School District went relatively smoothly, according to a spokesperson.

Plus, the district is beginning its first full year with its new parent alert system.

When parents send their children to school, the children's safety is paramount.

TUSD rolled out it's ParentLink alert system late last school year.

It has been a year when two incidents helped highlight the need for a parent notification system.

Last fall a gun was found on the catalina high school campus.

The school was locked down.

Three teenagers were detained.

No one was hurt.

Then about three weeks later police swarmed santa rita high school after reports of a man with a weapon in the neighborhood.

Nothing was found.

However, in both situations parents were angry they were not getting information about their children who were locked inside the schools.

Now they do.

The district has added to the basic ParentLink system parents saw at the end of last school year.

This year there'll be more to it, from meeting that very basic need for parents to know their children are safe to providing the day-to-day information.

ParentLink is a computer program that lets the district communicate with parents and with staff via phone and email.

The Sunnyside School District has been using ParentLink for a few years now.

This year TUSD parents get connected to ParentLink when they register by providing their phone numbers and email addresses, the best ways they can

 be reached.

TUSD says that soon ParentLink will be used for attendance just in case parents forget to call their child in sick.

The district says the goal is to improve communication and let parents feel they know what's happening with their children at school.

"Whether it's a weather delay, whether it's an emergency, whether it's an important meeting that they should come to and share their ideas and feedback... that is the hope for ParentLink," says TUSD spokesperson Michelle Valenzuela.

Cruzita Olvera has two children in TUSD schools.

"I think it's a good idea, especially with what's going on nowadays. You know, keeping the kids safe and letting the parents know right away whether or not there's an incident happening. I work on the far southwest side of town, and it takes me a while to get to my kids," she says.

The district says the key to making this work is the parents themselves.

Valenzuela says parents have got to make sure the district has their updated phone numbers and email addresses.

She says, if they haven't done it already, parents may provide their updated information at their respective schools.

TUSD has nearly 49,000 students who made their way to new classrooms Thursday.

When you're the biggest school district in southern Arizona, you have to anticipate things going wrong on the first day of school, but TUSD says it had few problems on the first day of school.

The district says first-day-of-school problems usually have to do with bus schedules or equipment failures, such as air conditioners conking out.

The students seemed to be taking the first day in stride, especially one senior we ran into.

"So far Freshmen looked a little lost--had to get around, but everybody looked the same," says Keano Chavez.

Chavez says he's excited about senior year because his brothers told him it's the best year and to have fun.

Parents are focused on other things.

TUSD says they can reach out to their schools or directly to district offices if they run into issues.

"We do have systems in place in case that does happen with the transportation department, with school safety and the school offices themselves. So there are lots of ways that parents can reach out if they're having any trouble," Valenzuela says.

TUSD says it is dealing with issues as it hears about them.

For instance, the district says it was notified late Wednesday afternoon that the air conditioning in the sixth grade area of Valencia Middle School wasn't working.

We were told someone was there to repair it by late Thursday morning.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now All rights reserved.

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