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Parents Concerned After School’s Emergency Button Fails

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MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Some New Jersey parents are wondering if their children’s schools are at risk after an emergency alert system failed to contact police earlier this month.

As CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider, bright red buttons are being installed inside schools across the country, including at nine schools in the South Orange-Maplewood School District. Once pressed, the button is supposed to send a school into lockdown and mobilize police.

But when a button was mistakenly pushed June 6 at Marshall Elementary School in South Orange, it never alerted police.

“Teachers and students were on their own in a situation they thought was dangerous because there was so much miscommunication,” said Walter Fields, a father of a high school student.

Fields attended a meeting where teachers spoke out about the security lapse.

“The emergency lockdown button is not connected to the South Orange Police Department and did not lock the doors from the outside,” teacher Bebe Greenberg said at the meeting.

A teacher at the school had to call 911 on her personal cellphone. Officers did not arrive until 12 minutes later.

“When police arrived, the police were unprepared because they weren’t aware of the school’s emergency procedures and protocols,” Fields said.

Schools Superintendent Brian Osborne told Schneider the system is being thoroughly reviewed and the district will request funding to hire a full-time security director.

But that’s not enough for some parents.

“I live around the corner, and the fact that they call me for every little thing and they didn’t call me for the alarm, that’s a little scary,” said David Banks, a father.

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