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LAUSD halts home use of iPads for students after devices hacked

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Following news that students at a Los Angeles high school had hacked district-issued iPads and were using them for personal use, district officials have halted home use of the Apple tablets until further notice.

It took exactly one week for nearly 300 students at Theodore Roosevelt High School to hack through security so they could surf the Web on their new school-issued iPads, raising new concerns about a plan to distribute the devices to all students in the district.

"Outside of the district's network ... a user is free to download content and applications and browse the Internet without restriction," two senior administrators said in a memo to the Board of education and L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy. "As student safety is of paramount concern, breach of the ... system must not occur."

Other schools reporting the problem were Westchester High and the Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Granada Hills.

Students began to tinker with the security lock on the tablets because "they took them home and they can't do anything with them," said Roosevelt senior Alfredo Garcia.

Roosevelt students matter-of-factly explained their technique Tuesday outside school. The trick, they said, was to delete their personal profile information. With the profile deleted, a student was free to surf.

Soon they were sending tweets, socializing on Facebook and streaming music through Pandora, they said.

L.A. Unified School District Police Chief Steven Zipperman suggested, in a confidential memo to senior staff obtained by The Times, that the district might want to delay distribution of the devices.

"I'm guessing this is just a sample of what will likely occur on other campuses once this hits Twitter, YouTube or other social media sites explaining to our students how to breach or compromise the security of these devices," Zipperman wrote. "I want to prevent a 'runaway train' scenario when we may have the ability to put a hold on the roll-out."

The incident, which came to light Tuesday, prompted questions about overall preparations for the $1-billion tablet initiative.

The rollout is scheduled to put an iPad in the hands of every student in the nation's second-largest school system within a year. Roosevelt was among the first to distribute them, starting a week ago.

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Twitter: @howardblume

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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