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LA schools' woes with enrollment system continue

student classroom teacher

Photo by Tom Woodward via Flickr Creative Commons

The Los Angeles Unified School District has struggled to keep accurate tabs on students during the new school year — glitches in a new student information system have forced some counselors to handwrite student enrollment information.

Los Angeles Unified officials vastly underestimated the number of students facing problems from the district's new digital enrollment system, new numbers from the principals and administrators union suggest.

In an online newsletter for the week of Sept. 1, the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles reported at least 45,000 students are unaccounted for under the new system known as MiSiS. The district's communications office had previously said fewer than 1 percent — roughly 6,500 students or fewer — were affected.

Here's an excerpt from the newsletter:

We cannot begin to tell you the countless numbers of calls that have come into AALA about this catastrophe. Both elementary and secondary schools have had a particularly stressful opening this year. Basic student information is being incorrectly reflected in the system, with wrong birth dates and juxtaposed middle and last names. Enrollment counts are nowhere near accurate. 


LA schools iPads: Officials on bid committee got free tablets, resort trips

Baldwin Hills iPad - 6

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

L.A. Unified has already purchased 75,000 iPads, half with Pearson software. Here, second graders at Baldwin Hills Elementary swipe through their iPads for the first time and call out the apps they see.

Los Angeles Unified officials who evaluated bids for its massive technology project received iPads from Pearson, met with a Pearson software executive and attended a weekend sales pitch for that software — all ahead of the public bid process, documents show.

The revelation is important because Superintendent John Deasy has repeatedly said the bid process was not affected by early conversations on the software — which he asserts were limited to a small pilot project.

According to travel reports received through a public records act request, Susan Tandberg and Gerardo Loera, top administrators in the district's office of curriculum and instruction, attended a Pearson conference at a Palm Desert resort in July 2012 where all attendees were given iPads loaded with Pearson's learning software.


For some immigrant parents, keeping kids home better than preschool

Immigrants & preschool

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Dina Khalil accompanies her two young daughters to their early education classes at Shenandoah Elementary school in West LA. She is able to be with them in the classroom which greatly eases her anxiety about putting them into preschool.

Immigrants & preschool

Deepa Fernandes / KPCC

Dina Khalil's youngest daughters are enrolled in Shenandoah Elementary's Family Literacy program and state preschool.

Dina Khalil and her family left behind political turmoil in Egypt when they moved to Los Angeles in 2010.

Khalil and her husband tried to find housing and jobs - and figure out how things worked in their new country -with their two toddlers in tow. Khalil only spoke Arabic.

New friends began suggesting she put her children into daycare or Head Start, but the idea was utterly baffling to Khalil. In Egypt, family members are the primary caregivers for young children, she said.

“If I go to work [in Cairo], I bring my daughter or my son to my sister; I bring my son to my mother,” she said. For her, the early years are a time to teach love, culture and language and daycare can’t do this like family can.

But what to do in a new country when there is no family to help out? It’s a dilemma facing more families nationwide. One quarter of all young children in the U.S. live in a family where at least one parent was born overseas, according to the Migration Policy Institute.


LA schools' audit finds hundreds of computers stolen, missing; thousands unaccounted for

Students on computers

Annie Gilbertson/KPCC

Bell High School students at an after school programming club.

An audit of the Los Angeles Unified School District's computer inventory reveals 230 devices worth nearly $200,000 have been stolen or are missing - and school officials can't account for another 3,105 laptops, desktops and iPads.

"The district did not have a complete, adequate and centralized inventory record of all of its computers," reads the July 29, 2014 report by the school district's Inspector General, Ken Bramlett.

Bramlett also criticizes officials for failing to keep track of who is getting the devices and tracking them when they're transferred to different schools or employees. He said school administrators were ignoring inventory rules and recommends the district complete a physical inventory.

The report comes just as controversy surrounding the district's one-to-one technology program reaches new heights over questions about the fairness of the bidding process.


Emails prompt LA schools' inspector general to reopen iPad probe

Apple Announces Launch Of New Tablet Computer

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The inspector general of the Los Angeles Unified School Distict is reopening an investigation into the purchase of iPads and Pearson software based on findings in a KPCC investigation into communication between district officials and those companies nearly a year ahead of a public bid.

Ken Bramlett, the Inspector General for L.A. Unified, led an investigation into the district’s competitive bid earlier this year, but told KPCC Wednesday afternoon the early emails were not part of his office’s initial probe.

After reviewing more than 1,000 internal emails over several days, KPCC found Superintendent John Deasy and his staff communicated closely with executives at Pearson about purchasing learning  software under development for the iPad.

The emails show the officials detailed aspects of a one-to-one student technology program, down to the specifics of tech support and teacher training.  A year later, the requirements for proposals resembled the package Pearson was selling.