Cobb teachers not trained on district’s multimillion dollar AlertPoint System, survey shows

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — After the most recent mass shootings, the mothers who are founding members of Watching the Funds Cobb thought about school safety.

In February, someone hacked AlertPoint, which is the crisis management company for the Cobb County School District.

This month, Cobb County police said a hacker got into the system because of a weak password. As previously reported by Channel 2 Action News, the cyber-attack triggered a Code Red lockdown.

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The district first told parents it was a system wide malfunction. More than three weeks later, the district said someone hacked into the AlertPoint system.

Teachers and students thought an armed intruder was in their school. At the time, they didn’t know it was a false alarm.

The district said it affected all of its schools.

“It’s just an utter failure. It’s a waste of money, but more importantly it just makes our schools, our children, our teachers, our community very vulnerable,” said Heather Tolley-Bauer.

Watching the Funds Cobb made its survey available to more than 2,000 educators:

  • 400 people responded
  • 96% said they are not personally trained on AlertPoint each year
  • 83% said they did not know how to activate the system prior to February

“It’s extremely concerning that the system is hackable, and the teachers are not trained to use it, that the badges which have been promised don’t exist,” said Stacy Efrat.

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On its website, AlertPoint gives an overview of its system. A button on a badge is supposed to trigger alarms ranging from a code red to a medical emergency. Out of 400 educators who responded to the survey, 39 said they currently have the badges.

“It was purchased years ago. It is not still fully integrated, and I want to know why this is the case,” said Tolley-Bauer.

Cobb County Schools first launched AlertPoint in 2017 at Kennesaw Mountain High School and Bells Ferry Elementary. The schools served as the district’s proof of concept locations for the 2017-2018 school year.

Through an open records request, Channel 2 Cobb County Bureau Chief Chris Jose learned the district paid AlertPoint $5.3 million.

Jose read over the responses that teachers wrote in the survey.

One said, “No new news on this. It doesn’t work. I don’t know what else to say.”

Another said, “We’ve never had buttons on our badges, been talked to about that ever happening or been told we could access AlertPoint in any way. It’s not active in our school.”

Jose sent the district a list of questions, but a spokesperson only provided a statement:

“Alertpoint has been installed in all Cobb schools and, before the pandemic, was being implemented, including training and badges, in all Cobb schools. As soon as the agencies who are investigating this case complete their investigation, we will know how the instructional day was interrupted and how to resume implementation. Alertpoint continues to be an important part of 12 safety initiatives, called Cobb Shield, which keep Cobb students and staff safer.”

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