WEATHER WATCH
Thousands of iPads, Chromebooks and laptops used for virtual teaching are now missing
Last year local districts purchased large orders of devices for remote learning during the pandemic. Now thousands are unaccounted for. Some already considered lost or stolen. (SBG Photo)

SAN ANTONIO - The News 4 Trouble Shooters have learned the Texas Education Agency is investigating alleged misconduct by a former Edgewood ISD official. The TEA acted after Jaie Avila's investigation uncovered allegations Christopher Nester, who was the Technology Director at Edgewood, had been selling district iPads to people on Facebook Marketplace.

After that investigation Jaie checked other local school districts and found they have thousands of missing, lost or stolen devices. iPads, laptops and hot spots all purchased with your tax dollars.

Thousands of iPads, Chromebooks and laptops used for virtual teaching are now missing (SBG San Antonio)

Last year local districts purchased large orders of devices for remote learning during the pandemic. Now thousands are unaccounted for. Some already considered lost or stolen.

Tiffany Rivera says she had to spend her own money on remote learning devices for her two kids at the beginning of the pandemic because Northside ISD didn't have enough to go around.

“Which was a pretty big out-of-pocket expense, but it was easier than them losing out on all that school," Rivera said.

Tiffany was shocked to learn Northside ISD is now missing 4,051 Chromebooks, 3,459 iPads and 6,478 laptops.

“That's my tax dollars and everybody's tax dollars going to waste personally I don't see how such a big district can lose that many devices," Rivera said.

Northside ISD says only a small number of devices are confirmed lost or stolen. 18 Chromebooks, 35 iPads and 3 laptops. The vast majority are overdue.

“We have worked diligently to get messaging out to families that we need those devices back. We have taken some measures to disable the devices if they've not been returned by the deadline we gave them," said Northside spokesman Barry Perez.

The San Antonio Independent School District says approximately 332 of its Chromebooks are unaccounted for, as are 168 iPads and iTouches.

Northeast ISD reports 242 of its Chromebooks are missing, alone with 71 iPads and 60 laptops.

We also checked Edgewood ISD, where former Technology Director Christopher Nester resigned in May after we uncovered allegations he was selling school iPads out of the back of his truck.

On July 19th Edgewood records showed 82 missing iPads. But one week later when we interviewed the district spokesperson, she told me that number had gone down dramatically, to just one.

“We've had a large amount of students come back to school to start prepping for the first day of school. We've been able to recuperate a lot of devices that hadn't been turned into our offices," said Keyhla Calderon-Lugo of Edgewood ISD.

Meanwhile Northside, which had the largest number of missing devices, says it will still have enough for every student to have a device.

“With not only local funds but also federal stimulus money we were able to put in orders and we have secured additional technology," Barry Perez said.

The San Antonio Independent School District sent us the following comments about their missing devices:

1.Lost & Missing are used interchangeably
The key to this category is that all efforts have been made to locate the device and it is now necessary to activate all necessary tools in an attempt to proactively determine location the device. When this category is used the following steps are taken:
oIT has Computrace (from Absolute) and Filewave is activated in an attempt to locate the device.
oComputrace and FileWave places the device(s) in a “missing state”. This means that when/if a device connects to a network, then the device provides a GPS location which enables the Technology department to locate the device. In a number of instances the devices has been found to have been stored in a location in the school/office and technology informs the administrator of the location.
?iPads and Macs can provide an actual GPS location.
?Windows and Chromebooks can provide a location based on IP address.
2.Stolen device is a label used by technology if the SAISD Police Department deems the device was taken by an act of burglary, theft or robbery.

The Northeast ISD sent us the following statement:

oMissing, Lost, Stolen means that the device was marked as not returned under one of these distinctions, or generically as “not returned” by the campus. The campus reports these devices to the Technology Department along with devices that need repair either for mechanical issues, damaged/missing Charging cables, or operating system issues, which are addressed in-house or by a 3rd party repair facility.
oThe return of students to face-to-face instruction will afford administrators with the opportunity to follow up in-person with students who still have devices in their possession.
oWe utilize an online system to track physical asset recovery and/or cost recovery, which is conducted by campus administration. Email notifications, mailed letters, phone calls, home visits, etc. are all at the disposal of the administration in their efforts to recover assets/repair/replacement costs. The online system provides an easy means for administrators to email parents/guardians and generate collection letters.
oAt this time, it does not appear that the District would experience a shortage of devices if the need for remote learning returns. Acquisitions made at the start of the pandemic and throughout the year will easily offset any losses associated with unreturned/lost/missing/stolen devices.

More School District Missing Devices

Harlandale ISD

  • 35 Chromebooks, 17 Hotspots, 10 iPads, 7 Laptops

Southside ISD

  • 5 Hotspots, 3 Chromebooks, 6 Laptops, 1 iPad

Judson ISD

  • 1 iPad, 2 Laptops, 5 Chromebooks, 5 Hotspots

East Central ISD

  • 10 iPads, 71 Hotspots, 71 Chromebooks

Alamo Heights ISD

  • 5 iPads, 9 Chromebooks, 2 Macbooks

Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD

  • 1 Chromebook
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