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Teachers union says computer glitch cost students first day

Vanessa Romo | August 12, 2014

Your donation will help us produce journalism like this. Please give today. from LA Unified’s teachers union said today hundreds, perhaps thousands, of students missed the first day of school today due to flaws in the district’s new student data management system, which is designed to enroll and assign students.

Colleen Schwab, a UTLA vice president, held up a picture of an empty classroom taken earlier today as she detailed a litany of problems at several LAUSD campuses.

The system, called MiSiS — My Integrated Student Information System — is designed to track every aspect of a student’s academic career by integrating a variety of existing computer programs. When working properly, teachers and administrators can track attendance, grades, health and counseling records from a single location.

“At Taft High School in Woodland Hills at 9 o’clock this morning, there were close to 400 students, still sitting, waiting for classes, and a long line out the door,” Schwab said. She added that hundreds more across the district abandoned their plans to enroll today, leaving school sites frustrated by the long waits.

But the district had a different take on today’s events. “The new MISIS system is working at the overwhelming majority of LAUSD schools,” read a brief statement issued late this afternoon.

“Launching a new system—as large and complex as this one—requires fine-tuning and we are responding to schools as they request support. We are the largest system in America to transition an entire student record system,” it said.

UTLA, which is negotiating a new labor contract with the district, has objected to MiSiS for several months, in part, because of the extra workload it has created for counselors, nurses, and administrative staff. Today, UTLA President Alex Caputo-Pearl assured members the union will be seeking additional compensation on their behalf.

“We are going to be pursuing overtime for our counselors who have put in hundreds of extra hours to clean up for [Superintendent John Deasy’s] mess,” he said.

Whatever the magnitude of problems, board member Steve Zimmer acknowledged the hard work of school and district personnel getting the new system up and running.

“I was around people who have slept total of 10 to 12 hours because they’ve been working so hard to make sure that what needed to get done got done,” he told LA School Report. “It is literally heroic what staffers have done to get kids enrolled and in classes.” 

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