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Galatzan calling for probe into computer system snafus

Vanessa Romo | August 15, 2014

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LAUSD-computer-system-glitch-prevails* UPDATED

Concerned by a slew of problems with the district’s new student management computer system, board member Tamar Galatzan said today she is asking the district’s Inspector General to conduct an audit of the defective rollout.

“I demand to know what happened and how this got so messed up,” she told LA School Report. “Because until it happened, the board had no inkling that the system wasn’t ready to go live.”

Galtazan, who made her request in writing to Ken Bramlett this afternoon, added, “After the payroll fiasco of a number of years ago, the board tried to put safeguards in place so we wouldn’t go live with a system that didn’t work. Clearly, that didn’t happen here, and we need to know who’s responsible for it.”

She says the board received little information about the progress and development of the comprehensive system over the last year.

“I can’t remember the last time we got an update on the program . . . and we don’t supervise anyone who works for the superintendent, which is who was running it,” Galatzan said.

Among other things, she asks Bramlett to include in his audit:

  • Reasons the new system was put into place without a backup.
  • A financial summary of the program.
  • A review of the management and implementation by LA Unified employees and contractors as well as how third-party contractors were sourced.
  • A breakdown of the problems reported at school sites.
  • Recommendations to avoid the same kinds of problems in future technology projects.

In response to continued complaints about the glitchy system that continues to derail efforts to enroll kids in the right classes, LA Unified officials now say, less than 1 percent of students have been affected by the series of technical snafus.

“Students at the vast majority of LAUSD schools are in class and learning how to read, write, think and speak for success,” the district said in a statement today.

By the district’s own math, that leaves about 6,500 students who have yet to be assigned classes, teachers, counselors, and a host of other services.

The system, called MiSiS — My Integrated Student Information System — is designed to track every aspect of a student’s academic lifecycle by consolidating a variety of existing computer programs. The one-stop-shop is supposed to monitor everything from grades to health records to daily attendance.

However, while the district tries to solve a series backend problems, teachers have been instructed to track attendance the old fashioned way — with pen and paper — through August 22, which is 10 days into the new academic year.

“At times, the system has been slower than expected. We’ve asked teachers to take attendance offline — for now,” reads the statement.

Lydia Ramos, director of communications for the district, said, “Attendance will be input either by teachers, front office or support staff. Instructions will go out at the appropriate time.”

Beyond the immediate repercussions of disenfranchisement by having students miss the first week of school, their exclusion could have a significant impact on the district’s bottom line, which relies on student attendance for federal and state dollars. Every day that a child is not in school, or is not recorded as being in school, means less money for the district.

Again, Ramos, says the district is on top of it. “We will not risk losing money in the short term.”

Previous Posts: Teachers union says computer glitch cost students first day; Teachers in panic over LAUSD’s new computer tracking system

* Includes details of Galatzan’s request to the Inspector General.

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