Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Roosevelt students get access to unauthorized sites on new iPads L.A. Unified iPads

Bianca Gomez, left, Humberto Salazar and Doroteo Cruz try out a new iPad at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights last week. This week, The Times has learned, some students had bypassed security systems to access unauthorized websites. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times / September 17, 2013)

By Howard Blume, LA Times | http://lat.ms/1fBdH0c

September 24, 2013, 4:09 p.m.  ::  More than 300 Roosevelt High School students found ways around security on their new school-issued iPads and visited unauthorized websites, The Times has learned.

It took students at the Boyle Heights campus less than a week to decode the security measures, raising questions about overall precautions related to a $1-billion technology investment by the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Roosevelt High was one of the first schools in the nation's second-largest school system to receive the tablet computers made by Apple, in the first phase of a district-wide rollout.

Students began to receive the tablets a week ago, with devices still being handed out to some classes at the end of the week.

But even by then, students figured out how to bypass security meant to prevent them from reaching such sites as YouTube and Facebook.

"They had to shut down all the iPads yesterday," said ninth-grader Alan Munoz.

L.A. Unified officials confirmed the problem. The district's communications office was preparing a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Students at three LAUSD high schools access unauthorized sites on new iPads

By Barbara Jones, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/181w6za

Posted: 09/24/13, 7:05 PM PDT | Updated: 11:55 PM  ::  More than 300 students at three Los Angeles Unified high schools bypassed security measures to access unauthorized websites on their new district-issued iPads, prompting an immediate ban on taking the tablet computers home, officials said Tuesday.

The breach was discovered Friday at Westchester High, Roosevelt High in Boyle Heights and the Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Granada Hills. Those campuses were among the first to receive the iPads in the first phase of a plan to equip every LAUSD student with one of the $678 tablets.

Ron Chandler, the district’s Chief Information Officer, said tech-savvy students used their programming skills to alter settings and delete files, giving them access to sites like Facebook and YouTube. However, software embedded in the iPads immediately locked down the devices and alerted officials that they’d been tampered with.

“We knew immediately what had happened,” Chandler said.

Chandler said administrators had spoken with each of the students and are working to create a system of progressive discipline to deal with repeat offenders.

“What this really forces us to do is ramp up the conversation about responsible use and accountability,” Chandler said.

Although district officials have said the iPads would not be allowed off campus because of liability concerns, Chandler said that decision has actually been left up to principals at the 47 schools that are participating in Phase One of the rollout.

On Tuesday, Superintendent John Deasy ordered a moratorium on letting the devices off campus “until the district can be 100 percent certain the problem has been resolved and students are using the devices safely and appropriately.”

Chandler said some of the students told administrators they had bypassed the security measures because they were unable to access websites they needed for their studies. The district is testing various “filtering systems,” and one apparently had such narrow parameters that even the most innocuous sites were blocked.

Those are the types of glitches that will be worked out as the district moves forward with its technology project, Chandler said.

In the first phase, the district approved spending $30 million in bond revenue to buy iPads for students and faculty at 47 schools. The remaining campuses are expected to have the tablets by this time next year — in time for the implementation of new English and math standards that rely on technology for student assessments.

Chandler is slated to give an update on the iPad project at the school board’s next Technology Committee meeting.

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