LOS ANGELES UNIFIED WORKS TO FIX NEW COMPUTER SYSTEM: PROBLEMS PERSIST
By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1oOfmX4
Posted: 08/18/14, 9:01 PM PDT :: Although Los Angeles Unified teachers were told Monday they could use a scaled-back version, the district’s new computer system continues to be plagued by problems.
For instance, the recently abridged version of MiSiS eliminates seating charts from its attendance tracking, but reportedly still takes such an excessive amount of time to load that some teachers have opted to stick with paper logs.
“We encountered some challenges, but together we continue to get past the hurdles, with school-based staff voicing issues and our technical team working to resolve them,” according to a statement from Los Angeles Unified.
The district’s inspector general will launch an audit of the program and the circumstances surrounding its failures, district spokeswoman Ellen Morgan said.
The audit is in response to a request from school board member Tamar Galatzan, who represents parts of the San Fernando Valley. She wants to know how the faulty system was allowed to be deployed in a move that “severely crippled basic and essential services at every school and most departments in the district.”
“What I expect is if the district is going to roll out a new program that’s going to impact our schools, students and parents, that it’s rolled out properly,” Galatzan said. “I also think the board should have been given updates.”
Board member Bennett Kayser warned Superintendent John Deasy in a July 21 letter that the system was “causing major disruptions” at Bell High School, which operates on a year-round schedule.
While he noted his previous support for the system, which aims to centralize records by consolidating a number of existing programs, and acknowledged such efforts rarely go off without a hitch, the problem at Bell “seems well out of bounds as to what is acceptable,” Kayser wrote in his letter.
Despite his warning, the school district pushed ahead with launching the system. As a result, students were delayed in registering for classes as the system lost their schedules and records, along with other glitches that made MiSiS unavailable at times during the first week of school and Monday afternoon.
Counselors and school administrators were forced to revert to paper logs to schedule classes and enroll students. The district’s administration has yet to say how much money the program’s problems will cost in overtime.
Karen Wolfe spent the weekend before school opened at Marina Del Rey Middle School helping educators at her daughter’s campus manually assign classes in simple spread sheets.
Wolfe said there was no records to tell whether kids should be scheduled for advanced or remedial classes. Tracking the number of kids in a class, she said, was also time-consuming and difficult.
“They had no data to track these kids or know easily how many kids were going into a class; there were chair shortages,” Wolfe said. “It was very taxing. I sat at a computer and opened an Excel document and helped punch in the classes so there could be a roster for each teacher and schedule for each student.”
More than 20 years ago the district lost the records of a student with learning disabilities, failing to address her special needs and telling her to repeat the 10th grade for a third time.
District officials say they launched MiSiS this year to comply with the terms of a settlement made in federal court stemming from that incident.
While district officials could have rolled the program out over the course of the year, they decided to push forward with its launch on school’s first day, Aug 12.
The teachers’ union reported Monday that it continues to hear “horror stories,” as counselors still can’t schedule students’ classes in a timely manner or provide them with text books due to the system’s problems.
Additionally, up to 57 students have been assigned to a single class, as counselors can’t balance class sizes, according to a statement from United Teachers’ Los Angeles.
“It is time for the school board to demand accountability from the superintendent,” UTLA stated.
LAUSD trustee calls for probe of computer system
BY FERMIN LEAL /STAFF WRITER , Los Angeles Register | http://bit.ly/1AvxFTr
Aug. 18, 2014 /Updated Aug. 19, 2014 9:26 a.m. :: A Los Angeles Unified School Board member is calling for an audit of the districtâ€™s much-maligned new student data system, saying itâ€™s been riddled with problems since it launched on the first day of classes last week.
School board member Tamar Galatzan sent a letter to the districtâ€™s inspector general requesting the audit of the My Integrated Student Information System, known as MiSiS.
The system â€œhas severely crippled basic and essential services at every school and at most departments in the district,â€ Galatzan said in the letter to Inspector General Kenneth Bramlett.
MiSiS was designed as a one-stop shop for teachers, principals and parents to track grades, class schedule, attendance and other records of the districtâ€™s 650,000 students.
Other critics of the system include school board member Bennett Kayser, counselors, teachers and the district teachers union, which called for the system to be delayed until next school year while the issues are resolved.
Reported issues include students not being able to get class schedules, teachers having problems accessing attendance sheets and the interface locking up when staffers are inputting data.
â€œI want to know why we deployed a system without safeguards in place to ensure it was working effectively,â€ Galatzan said. â€œWe need to find out what happened.â€
Kayser said heâ€™s received multiple reports from schools that the system is causing major disruptions. Officials could not say how many of the districtâ€™s schools are experiencing problems.
“I have supported the implementation of MiSiS and know that such efforts seldom go smoothly,” Kayser said. “This, however, seems well out of bounds as to what is acceptable.”
Superintendent John Deasy last week said problems with the system are not as widespread as critics say they are.
District officials said Friday that fewer than 1 percent of district students had been affected by problems with MiSiS.
The district asked teachers to take attendance on paper for now and vowed to continue working to improve the system, according to a district statement.
“At times, the system has been slower than expected,” the statement said. “We are working around the clock to get the system running smoothly. We will not stop until the system provides the services that we expect.”