recently released a declaratory ruling regarding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) as it
pertains to the practice of
phone communications with consumers, and this ruling covered the use of automated calling systems by school districts.
In short, the ruling stipulated
that anyone using an automated, multi-target calling system had to have
consumers opt in to receive the informational messages through cellular devices. Landlines are exempt from the ruling.
Henry County Schools uses our Infinite Campus Messenger to send out mass notifications to phone numbers both on a district and school level. Individual schools and the district will continue to utilize this communication tool for both emergency and general messages, but as for general messages, only parents/families opting in to receive such messages will get them. A general message constitutes school reminders, weekly updates, event notifications, announcements, and other messages not centered on the health or safety of a student.
Any message pertaining to the health and safety of a student is exempt from the TCPA.
Of note should be the importance of providing accurate phone numbers and alerting teachers or front office staff any time those contact numbers might change. In the event of emergencies, we must be able to reach parents/families quickly. It cannot be stressed enough the importance of keeping your phone numbers up-to-date.
All students in the school system will receive an opt-in/opt-out form to start the school year. This form must be returned promptly with a parent or guardian's decision as to whether or not they wish to opt in to receiving the informational messages in addition to the emergency messages. The forms also contain directions for parents familiar with the Parent Portal on how to go in and select which messages they wish to receive outside of the emergency and attendance messages.
If someone is not familiar with the Parent Portal or has had their phone number(s) changed since the last time they were asked to update them, this indication should be marked on the TCPA Opt-In Form. A member of the school's front office staff will assist in getting this information updated.
If someone does NOT wish to receive the information messages from the school or district offices, they must select the opt-out option on the form and return it to school as well. Though one may opt out, they will still receive any potential emergency or attendance calls from the system/school as those calls involve the safety and health of a student.
The following links provide answers to common questions as well as the Opt-In/Opt-Out Form.