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Feds joining LAUSD’s effort to help solve issues with MiSiS

Vanessa Romo | November 24, 2014

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U.S. Secretary of Education  Arne Duncan

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

As if the recent efforts to fix MiSiS weren’t enough, LA Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines has called the feds.

In an email to school board members and their staffs on Friday, Cortines said U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, offered the district a lifeline.

“I spoke with Secretary Duncan today regarding various issues related to our District,” Cortines wrote. “The Secretary expressed his desire to provide support to our District, as needed, and agreed to send a team in December to work along with LAUSD staff to assess and advise on technology related issues.”

Matt Hill, who oversees the implementation and development of the plagued student data system, confirmed that Duncan’s team will be working on MiSiS. But it is unclear how many officials the feds are sending, how long the team will be here and what their specific tasks will be. 

Over the past two months, Cortines has pumped about $11 million into patching up software glitches, paying for thousands of hours in overtime and boosting staff to issue transcripts and report cards on time. Another $3.6 million has been allocated to buy new computers for schools whose hardware was too old to operate MiSiS.

Just last week, the Bond Oversight Committee also agreed to spend another $12.1 million in construction bonds to cover the cost of MiSiS improvements through February. The board will vote on the expenditure at the next school board meeting.

Microsoft is chipping in, too. The district developed the current MiSiS system using software and programs it licenses from the Seattle-based company. Earlier this month Microsoft deployed two executives and 16 employees “to augment the MISIS team (which already contained some Microsoft people), develop further clarity of the problem, set goals, and craft strategies to meet those goals.”

The district said that in addition to sending immediate help, the company is exploring a long-term relationship with LAUSD in which Microsoft would potentially lead the MISIS efforts.

Duncan is also keeping the door open for LA Unified. According to Cortines’s email, “The Secretary reiterated that if the District needs more staff assistance, more will come.”

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