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LAUSD hunting down the last 500 missing computer devices

Mike Szymanski | September 25, 2015

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Ray Cortines watches as the ITI Task Force discusses issues.

When 50,000 iPads, laptops and Chromebooks went out to LA Unified students last year, about 1,500 were unaccounted for.

So far this year about 1,000 were recovered and district computer techs now say they expect to recover the remaining 500 devices by sometime next week.

“We’ve been like Sherlock Holmes,” said Bill Wherritt, a Facilities Division official on the Instructional Technology Initiative Task Force who is overseeing the device deployment to the schools. “We can see them online and can deactivate them.”

By the end of next week, he explained, the missing computers will generate a message reading: “Go to see the principal if you want to reactivate your device.” Wherritt said he is confident the district will retrieve them all.

He admitted there was not good inventory taking last year and “a few things could be done better” to account for the distribution of the computer devices given out to the students and teachers. “We have learned, and we don’t want to recreate this situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, Wherritt said the district is “in the heat of distributing devices” to 103 pilot schools on schedule to get a device for every student. He said that at the beginning of the year 24 schools had their plans completed and approved to get their devices, and now that number is nearly double, at 47. He said 18 other schools have plans submitted and waiting for approval, and 23 other schools that have been approvaled are awaiting their devices.

It’s a complicated process to get the expected 70,000 computers out this year, but it’s a good sign that 88 of the schools are very close to getting them, Wherritt said.

Already, 11 schools have started the two-to-three days of training and distribution to the students, while 44 other schools will have computers distributed to each student in the next two weeks, Wherritt said. Some delays arise because principals have to be digitally certified, the entire school has to go through digital citizenship training, contracts with every student and parent have to be signed and all the forms have to be in before the devices get handed out.


Bill Wherritt

The tech services teams are aware of issues that occur when a school’s network gets a high traffic volume, especially when they are all downloading applications at the same time and when the wireless system goes down. Sophia Mendoza, the interim director of the Instructional Technology Initiative at LAUSD, said about 80 schools have requested support, and that shows widespread enthusiasm among the principals.

“We have some big, big changes going on with schools in the district,” Mendoza said. Some schools are collaborating with neighboring schools to get their devices faster. Also, Mendoza said the district is accelerating the process for schools to use the iPads at schools that students are already using for state tests.

Schools have to answer two questions to use their devices in the schools, Mendoza said. One is how the school will use the tech tools, and a second asks about the school’s vision for use of the devices.

Linda Del Cueto, chief of Professional Learning and Leadership Development, told the parents, teachers, principals and community experts on the task force that she has compiled some feedback from teachers and students so far about the math books. The schools are working with five publishers who all have online computer components to their materials.

“Teachers want more PD (professional development), and that is a good thing,” Del Cueto said. “And students and teachers both love not having to drag around their textbooks.”

The task force meetings are open to the public, and led by Local District East superintendent Frances Gipson. She outlined a loose agenda for the task force to present district-wide tech proposals to the School Board for approval by May.

The next ITI Task Force meeting is planned for Oct. 8 at the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex.



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