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So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

LA Unified acknowleges mistakes in student transcripts as college deadlines loom

File: Jefferson High School students stage a walk-out in protest in August after a broken scheduling system failed to assign them the classes they needed to graduate. Errors are now popping up in student transcripts.
File: Jefferson High School students stage a walk-out in protest in August after a broken scheduling system failed to assign them the classes they needed to graduate. Errors are now popping up in student transcripts. Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

FAQ and advice on transcripts for students and parents 

The new $130 million MiSiS student data system, blamed for student scheduling chaos at some Los Angeles Unified campuses earlier this school year, is now turning out student transcripts with incorrect information on grade-point averages, classes taken, and class rankings.

“As superintendent, I take full responsibility for ensuring that our systems are functioning correctly in support of students,” L.A. Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines said in a written statement on Monday. “We are working to resolve problems that have been identified.”

L.A. Unified officials have set a Nov. 1 deadline to fix the transcript problems. High school seniors must turn in applications to California State University and University of California campuses by Nov. 30. 

“That’s why we have all hands on deck,” said L.A. Unified board member Steve Zimmer. “That’s why we are going to do everything within our power to make sure that we don’t make one single mistake.”

Zimmer said he heard of problems with student transcripts earlier this month when he paid a visit to a couple of high school campuses. He and other school official said they don’t know how many students have incorrect transcripts or the extent of the problem.

“There have been problems figuring in summer school grades. We know that there have been problems figuring in when classes were taken at community college,” Zimmer said. The missing data has led to problems with grade-point averages and class rankings, critical to students applying for college.

L.A. Unified will be spending between $15,000 and $25,000 a day to hire retired educators who will check that transcripts are correct. District spokeswoman Monica Carazo could not say immediately how many retirees have been hired or how many days they will be on the payroll.

Officials have set up telephone hotlines and provided email addresses at five Educational Service Centers so students and parents can raise concerns for follow up by the district. (See the FAQ below for details.)

Meanwhile, school officials are calling on students and parents to help the district by putting their school transcripts side-by-side with old report cards. Students can request unofficial hard copies of their transcripts to conduct the checks and see what would be sent to the colleges to which they are applying.

"At this point they cannot look at their transcripts online but that is the plan once the issues are resolved," said Lydia Ramos, director of the district's Office of Communications & Media Relations, by email.

Earlier this school year, the district's MiSiS data system caused havoc at Jefferson High School and other campuses where it failed to assign students to their correct classes. Some students were left waiting for days while officials worked to assign them to the right courses. Students filled the time sitting in auditoriums or were sent home for lack of classes to attend.

So far, the L.A. Unified school board has approved $3.6 million to pay for updated computers so that schools can use the data system. Another $1.1 million has been earmarked to fix problems at Jefferson High, where the issues were so severe that a judge said they violated students' rights.

The long-term fate of the flawed data system is uncertain. 

“I don’t know if MiSiS is unfixable,” board member Tamar Galatzan said. The results of a general audit of the data system due soon will give the board more information.

“We’re trying to deal right now with the transcript issue and the master scheduling issue. If it’s unfixable then we’ll deal with that when we get to it.”

FAQ

1. How can students check if the information on their transcripts is correct?

L.A. Unified spokeswoman Monica Carazo said students can verify their transcripts against their old printed report cards. Students can request unofficial transcripts to see what would be sent to the colleges. They should check for details that may be wrong, including incorrect courses taken, grade-point averages, and class rankings.

2. What should students do if their transcripts are not accurate?

The L.A. Unified has hotlines that parents or students can call at five Educational Service Centers and record their concerns so that officials can follow up on any problems:

• North — Marilu Pigliapoco - (818) 654-3644 or marilu.pigliapoco@lausd.net

• East — Jose Morales - (323) 224-3313 or jlm8772@lausd.net

• South — Dr. Megan Mitchell or Veronica Obregon - (310) 354-3401 or mam0887@lausd.net or vxo1587@lausd.net

• West — Desiree Manuel - (310) 914-2124 or desiree.manuel@lausd.net

• Intensive Support and Innovation — Rene Martinez (213) 241-7872 or rmarti16@lausd.net

3. Will colleges accept printed report cards in place of transcripts?

Check with your college admissions offices to see if they can work with you on getting them accurate information.

4. What will happen if the problems are not resolved by the college application deadlines? 

It’s not clear. The best advice currently is to spot any inaccuracies as soon as possible, report them to the district, and try to get them resolved immediately. 

5. How can students request transcripts? 

Go to https://lausd.scriborder.com/ or contact:

Student Records Center
Los Angeles Unified School District
P.O. Box 3307
Los Angeles, CA 90051-1307

transcripts@lausd.net
phone: 323-224-5950

The center is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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