Open or closed? Portland Public Schools admits to mistake

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Public Schools admits it accidentally told some families that schools were closed on Tuesday due to bad weather, when they were actually open.

Anyone who called the district's main phone number on Tuesday morning heard the wrong announcement.

The recorded message said, "Due to inclement weather, all PPS schools and offices are closed, and all activities are canceled."

The recording was actually intended to play a day earlier, on Monday, when schools were closed.

Since the recording did not include a date, there would be no way for parents to know it was outdated if they listened to it on Tuesday.

"It was a minor mistake," said Christine Miles, spokeswoman for the district. "It was a glitch. These things happen."

Miles says the district decided to keep schools open on Tuesday by 5:30 a.m. but says nobody updated the recording.

The district fixed the recording by 8 a.m. on Tuesday with the correct announcement, according to Miles.

She insists only the phone recording contained the wrong announcement.  

The district posted the correct information at 5:46 a.m. on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

It relayed the information to news organizations and other sources, including KATU.

PPS also placed an automated robo-call to thousands of families early Tuesday morning with a recorded message saying schools would be open.

Ironically, that's how some families ended up hearing the wrong recording instead.

If you missed the call, your caller ID would show the main phone number for Portland Public Schools.

That means anyone who called back would hear the wrong recording -- but there would be no way to know it was outdated.

"I got confused," said Kelsey Smith, who read that schools were open on KATU.com and heard that schools were closed when she called the district.

Smith called the district's phone number because she missed that automated robo-call -- and the district's phone number appeared on her caller ID.

Miles could not say what caused the mistake or how many families heard the wrong message.

"We only got one or two complaints," said Miles.

When asked why the original recording did not include a date, and if the district would start including one in the future, Miles said she did not know.

"A date would have been fabulous," said Smith, who says her sons made it to Grant High School anyway without problems.

Some parents also called KATU asking us to clear up the confusing and conflicting announcements.

If this mistake impacted your kids, Miles says you should contact your school to discuss the situation.

KATU and KATU.com had always reported that schools were open.