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Head of L.A. schools' technology division resigns

Head of L.A. schools' technology division resigns
Monica Ratliff, board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, listens to Ron Chandler, right, chief information officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District, at a board meeting in August. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

The head of technology for the Los Angeles Unified School District has resigned, the latest fallout from two troubled technology efforts: the iPads-for-all project and a new student records system.

Ron Chandler, the chief information officer, headed technology programs for the nation's second-largest school system starting in 2010. For most of his tenure, district officials described his presence as something of coup, based on his extensive background in private industry and government service.

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But Chandler, 52, became associated with two major troubled projects. The first was a $1.3-billion effort to provide every student, teacher and campus administrator with an iPad, a flagship initiative of former Supt. John Deasy.

Chandler was responsible for some of the problems that accompanied the iPad rollout at 47 schools last year. For example, immediately after receiving iPads last year, students at three high schools figured out how to delete the security filter and freely browse the Internet.

Officials immediately took back the devices and some schools made little use of them for the remainder of the year.

L.A. Unified also has had problems remaining on time and on budget in its upgrades of broadband networks at schools -- although such difficulties were widely anticipated.

But Chandler's position apparently became untenable in the wake of a second technology project called My Integrated Student Information System, or MISIS. The system eventually is expected to integrate all student records, keeping parents informed, allowing educators to tailor instruction and helping students stay on track with graduation and college requirements. But the system wasn't ready and caused chaos across the sprawling district of about 600,000 students.

As if to underscore the link between Chandler's departure and MISIS, new Supt. Ramon C. Cortines tersely announced the resignation at the beginning of an update on the records system.

"There will be a change of leadership ... Mr. Ron Chandler, Chief Information Officer, has resigned," Cortines said. "We thank him for his service."

The update on the records system, more than two months into the school year, demonstrated the extent of the problems. With a Saturday deadline looming on some students' college applications, administrators are still trying to verify the accuracy of the seniors' transcripts. Unresolved issues include courses appearing more than once or not at all and dropped classes appearing as classes in progress.

Among the other issues, about 4,600 parent or guardian records need to be verified or obtained again.

In recent weeks, Chandler appeared repeatedly at public meetings to apologize for the problems, describe what had happened and update progress. Board members and others have expressed appreciation for his candor and his frequent appearances, in which he explained complex technology-related matters. But they have also criticized both efforts over which he had substantial control.

Under a separation agreement, Chandler will be paid through the end of the year, but his resignation took effect Friday.

Twitter: @howardblume

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