Reacting to ongoing problems with a new computerized student data system, Los Angeles school district officials have ordered a review of every senior's transcript and brought in counselors and administrators to ensure those records won't hurt students' chances to graduate or apply to college.
Supt. Ramon C. Cortines announced the move Monday. It's unclear how many of Los Angeles Unified's nearly 38,000 seniors are affected, but difficulties with the new system are being reported across the nation's second-largest district.
"As superintendent, I take full responsibility for ensuring that our systems are functioning correctly in support of students," Cortines said in a statement.
Cortines returned from retirement last week to lead the system.
To aid with transcript reviews, the district will temporarily hire 25 to 50 retired counselors and administrators at an estimated cost of $15,000 to $25,000 a day. Twenty were on the job for the first time Monday.
Central and regional office staff also are being sent to the district's 103 high schools to allow counselors to focus on the records problems. A typical high school is assigned about one counselor for every 700 students, although sometimes schools can fund an additional position.
The faulty computerized records system, which was launched districtwide in August, has resulted in some students lacking necessary courses or being assigned classes they don't need or both. It's also produced errors in transcripts needed for college.
The staff at the Downtown Magnets campus has worked long hours to try to keep all students on track, said college counselor Lynda McGee, but still there have been problems.
She learned recently of a senior who took required math classes in middle school. The student's transcript, instead of showing the A she earned, listed her grades as C and D. Another senior was missing credits for classes taken during a semester of ninth grade.
Cortines pledged to contact presidents of state colleges and many private institutions in California to alert them of the problems in L.A. Unified.
But that won't help students applying out of state, McGee said.
"Are we putting anything out to these other schools or are we supposed to somehow add it to the recommendation? Are we supposed to say: Don't trust this transcript?" she said.
Some application deadlines are in October, but the first major deadline for many colleges is Nov. 1.
"As of last week, this problem really affected the entire graduating class, about 250 students, in some way," said Bonnie Goodman, whose son, a senior at Cleveland High School in Reseda, is applying at two colleges under the "early action" program for admission.
The problems with the so-called My Integrated Student Information System has "caused great consternation" among families, she added. It also sparked a letter-writing campaign seeking help from district officials.
Cortines sent a letter to parents Monday outlining district efforts to rectify problems.
Cortines' predecessor, John Deasy, resigned under pressure Oct. 15. His critics faulted his handling of the student records system as well as another technology project: to provide every student, teacher and school administrator with an iPad. That effort has slowed, and now other devices also are being tested.
Leaders of both the administrators union and the teachers union have faulted L.A. Unified for switching to the new records system without adequate preparation.