School & District Management

L.A. School Technology Chief Resigns

By Benjamin Herold — November 05, 2014 2 min read
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Following the troubled rollout of an ambitious plan to provide iPads to students, and an ongoing software fiasco that has undermined class scheduling and the ability to verify the accuracy of students’ transcripts, the chief information officer of the 651,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District has stepped down.

Ronald Chandler’s departure the resignation of former Superintendent John Deasy last month.

Chandler’s resignation was announced October 31 in a weekly update from interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines on the district’s troubled MiSiS project. The My Integrated Student Information System software program has become a “technological disaster,” with a pricetag of more than $130 million, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times. Last month, a judge ordered state education official to get involved in fixing the mess after finding that problems were unconstitutionally depriving students at Thomas Jefferson Senior High School of valuable learning time. Students at the school sat in the auditorium for weeks waiting to be assigned to classes, according to the L.A. Times.

In the update and a letter to staff that followed shortly afterward, Cortines also provided details on a shakeup in the organizational structure of the district’s information technology division.

And the LAUSD has suspended a previous mandate that called for all elementary school teachers to begin using the software’s Gradebook feature this month, and for all secondary teachers to do so beginning in January.

The superintendent’s weekly report provided a snapshot of just how faulty the software remains, listing ongoing problems such “transcript(s) showing dropped classes under courses in progress,” “student passed Algebra 1 course in middle school but end-of-course credits are not calculated in total,” and “courses that cannot be repeated are being counted twice in the total credits.”

In addition, the update says, statistical reports being generated by the software do not contain accurate numbers, report cards are not printing the correct address for some students, and the records of up to 4,600 parents and guardians are unvalidated.

The MiSiS software was expected to integrate all student records from enrollment to graduation, including academic performance, health, behavior, and more. But it was launched before it was ready.

The software program was created in response to a federal class-action lawsuit alleging that the LAUSD had violated the rights of special education students by keeping such disorganized records that it sometimes failed to meet their needs.

The district originally spent $112 million on an outside vendor to build the software, then scrapped that effort amid confusion and lawsuits. The L.A. Times story provides a comprehensive breakdown of the complicated and messy developments that ensued.

The search for Chandler’s replacement is expected to take months.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.