Thursday, September 26, 2013


Boardmember Ratliff concerned that the school board hasn’t been involved in making key policy decisions. ●●see #33  By the numbers: HOW TO TELL IF YOUR SCHOOL DISTRICT IS INFECTED BY THE BROAD VIRUS

By Barbara Jones, Los Angeles Daily News |

9/25/13, 6:58 PM PDT  ::  Los Angeles Unified officials vowed Wednesday to ratchet up efforts to prevent a recurrence of the security breach that involved 300 district-issued iPads, even as new concerns arose about just who is responsible if the devices are lost, stolen or broken.

Chief Information Officer Ron Chandler was questioned extensively by the school board’s Technology Committee [4LAKids will post a link to the streaming video of the meeting when it becomes available] about last week’s discovery that students at three high schools had bypassed security measures on their new iPads to access Facebook, YouTube and other unauthorized websites.

The breach was identified immediately, he said, and the district was able to track down the offenders and retrieve the iPads for reprogramming. However, because most of the students tampered with the computers while they were off-campus, Superintendent John Deasy immediately prohibited the devices from being taken home.

As a result of the breach, Chandler said, officials are working swiftly to draft a progressive discipline “matrix” so they can deal with varying types and occurrences of computer misuse. At the same time, the district plans to increase discussions with students about cybersecurity and the importance of being good “digital citizens.”

“Safety for us trumps everything else,” Chandler said. “The best way to correct behavior, and influence the right behavior, is around awareness.”

The three high schools involved — Roosevelt, Westchester and the Fine Arts Academy at Maya Angelou Community High — were among the first of 47 campuses getting iPads this year as Los Angeles Unified rolls out its ambitious plan to equip every student with a tablet computer by this time next year.

According to the district’s timeline, the board will consider the purchase of about 300,000 tablet computers during its meeting in November.

Before that debate, however, committee Chairwoman Monica Ratliff wants answers to a slate of questions raised Wednesday.

As a result of the security breach, Ratliff learned — to her surprise — that some students had been allowed to take their iPads home. District officials had previously said the devices had to remain on campus until liability issues were resolved, but Chandler said that decision had actually been left to principals at each school. Ratliff said she wants to know at the committee’s next meeting just who made that call.

“Ultimately, it’s the school board who gets to decide, but it’s never been brought to the board,” Ratliff said. “I do understand the desire to get the devices into the hands of students and to take them home. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

And she also wants clarity on who is responsible for replacing the tablets if they’re lost, stolen or broken. While Los Angeles Unified has said the district would foot the bill for replacing the $678 iPads, some parents and even students have been told they have to sign forms accepting responsibility for the devices.

After the meeting, Ratliff said she’s concerned that the school board hasn’t been involved in making key policy decisions.

“I think it is regrettable that we are deep in the process of rolling our iPads out and yet some policy decisions have not been made or have been made on the fly,” she said. “What’s clear is that district personnel really want this to work and are doing the best they can to make it work.

“Certain decisions have to be made at the highest level — that being the board — and these decisions have not.”

The iPads will be used in lessons and assessments being designed for the new English and math standards taking effect in 2014-15. Known as the Common Core, the new curriculum is designed to provide students with real-world skills to better prepare them for a job or college.

Responding to concerns from committee members that parents aren’t prepared to help their kids with Common Core, Ratliff said the panel will hold a special forum for parents during the next meeting on Oct. 22.

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