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School District Adopts ParentSquare To Eliminate Communication Disparities

Case Study: Sunnybrook School District 171 (IL)

Challenges & Goals

  • The district had 60 days to replace its former direct messaging platform, classroom behavior management system, and newsletter tool with another solution.

  • The district needed to shift to one unified platform, instead of disparate tools that cost the district time and money in maintenance and training.

  • With a large ELL population, the district needed to ensure easy access for every parent and guardian.

  • With the expedited implementation of ParentSquare, the district has less tools to manage and can ensure timely and accurate information reaches every stakeholder in their preferred language — and all from a single, unified, and easy-to-use platform.

When SwiftK12 discontinued its Rave Mobile Solutions product, Sunnybrook School District 171 in Lansing, Ill., had 60 days to find a replacement communication solution. The district was under contract with Rave, but District Technology Director Mike McGown had his eye on ParentSquare’s safe, secure school-home communication platform for some time. 

“I’d been looking at ParentSquare for a while, so moving over to that platform was a no-brainer,” said McGown, who really liked the vendor’s unified solution, which would replace their previous direct messaging platform, classroom behavior management system, and newsletter tool. “Today we have an equity-rich, one-stop shop for two-way communication with our families.”

The district adopted ParentSquare during the spring of 2024 and immediately began notifying parents about the new platform and how it would be used during the coming school year. 


Sunnybrook School District 171


District of 2 Schools




Lansing, IL

Now, all robocalls and mass emails are being sent through ParentSquare, which is also being used for all school newsletters (biweekly during the school year and monthly during the summer). “When school starts in August, ParentSquare will be ‘the place to be,’” said McGown. 

A Powerful Communication Tool

With PowerSchool as its student information system and ParentSquare as its communication platform, the district now has an integrated, unified communication stream that brings everyone together on a single platform. “This helps us avoid miscommunication and the chance of a time being updated on one platform but not on the other,” said McGown.

The district’s top priority is to ensure easy access for parents, who need to be able to send and receive messages; read about the district’s “wins”; and stay informed about upcoming events. ParentSquare provides a foundation for the singular, unified messaging that the district strives for.

The platform’s language translation capability also promotes unity and supports the district’s large ELL population, which has a particularly high need for both Spanish and Arabic translationUnlike other school-home communication solutions, ParentSquare auto-translates the exact same way across different communication streams.

“That way, we always know that parents are going to understand the message,” McGown explained, “versus having to worry about which one is translated more accurately.” 

Saving Time and Money

Having a singular, cohesive communication platform saves Sunnybrook SD time, eliminates confusion and frees up teachers, administrators and other staff members to focus on more important projects. “It really makes life simpler for all of us,” said McGown. 

For example, if a bus is running 15 minutes late, the message would have previously been handled by four different people before being sent out to the impacted parents. Today, the person who gets the alert from the transportation contractor can send a targeted message on ParentSquare.

The platform has also reduced professional development time for the district, which only has to show teachers how to use one technology solution, versus a previous three or four. And each of those solutions costs money to implement, license and use. “By unifying, we’ve eliminated the cost of all of those other programs,” said McGown, who adds that the teacher training will be ongoing as the new school year approaches. 

“I’d been looking at ParentSquare for a while, so moving over to that platform was a no-brainer. Today we have an equity-rich, one-stop shop for two-way communication with our families.” 


Mike McGown

District Technology Director

Controlling the Narrative

In the modern educational setting, the school district that doesn’t have a state-of-the-art notification system is going to encounter some serious challenges. Whether it’s a simple reminder for an open house event the following day or if an emergency necessitates a day of remote learning, districts must be able to quickly and efficiently convey those messages to parents.

Timely messaging also helps the district report accurate information before someone reads about a situation online. For much like the game of telephone, the news and information can get distorted and jumbled as it makes its way from one person to the next. 

Left to guess about what’s happening, the rumor mill kicks into gear pretty quickly.

“It’s very important that we can get stuff out in a timely manner to control the narrative,” McGown explained. “We can even just use it to say simple things like, ‘We’re investigating the situation; more details to come later.’ That way, no one is wondering why it’s taking us so long to at least share some news about what’s going on.”

Tech That Performs As Expected

To ensure that ParentSquare does what the district requires, Sunnybrook SD worked closely with the technology vendor to make sure all its expectations would be met. McGown especially liked how receptive and responsive ParentSquare’s staff was whenever he had a question or request.

“Everybody I’ve worked with from initial research to purchasing to implementation has been very open to our questions, concerns and inquiries. They always get back to us very quickly,” he said. “ParentSquare has worked with us hand in hand and is always open to hearing our feedback on the platform. They’ve been phenomenal.

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