A Los Angeles Unified board member on Wednesday said it was "extremely disconcerting" that district officials haven't decided on consequences if the $700 iPads distributed to hundreds of students are lost or broken.
This after revelations that 300 or so students at Roosevelt High School skirted security measures on the device and visited unauthorized websites. In response, the district suspended all home use of the Apple tablets, which have gone out to about two dozen schools so far.
Ultimately, officials want the iPads used at home — that's considered a key element of their educational value. But their dollar value also became a concern at a meeting Wednesday of a district committee overseeing technology efforts.
"It's extremely disconcerting that the parent and student responsibility issue has not been hammered out, and that different parents and students received different information during the rollout," said Board of Education member Monica Ratliff, who chaired the meeting.
At least one of three forms distributed to families required a signature acknowledging that a parent is financially responsible if a student breaks or loses the device. The idea was that students would not receive an iPad until the signed form was returned.
But officials admitted they didn't know whether that approach had been used uniformly — or even if it should be. And then there's the unsettled issue of what to do if parents refuse to take responsibility for the tablets at home.
Within a year, L.A. Unified plans to spend $500 million on the devices and educational software for all students; another $500 million will be needed to update schools with wireless capability.
The district's contract with Apple stipulates that for three years, broken, lost or stolen machines will be replaced until they surpass 5% of the contract's value.
In any scenario, students will not be responsible for stolen iPads. In fact, officials said they don't want them to risk injury by resisting thieves.