1,500 computers, devices missing in Akron Public Schools

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AKRON, Ohio (WJW)– The FOX 8 I-Team found school computer equipment given to local students ending up lost or stolen. We’ve uncovered this as area school districts are doing more and more teaching online because of COVID-19.

So many of your kids now go to school simply by using a computer handed out by the districts.

But, the I-Team found Akron Public Schools has more than 1,500 devices considered missing or stolen.

Mark Williamson, spokesman for the district, said that represents a tiny percentage of devices issued to students, but he admits, the overall number is still significant. The missing equipment includes small laptops and other internet devices.

Williamson said, after a request from the I-Team, the district counted the number of devices disappearing going back to last spring. And, there could be many reasons behind what’s happened.

“I think we have to keep in mind, we have a population of a couple thousand (students) without homes and move a lot. We have many others with a high mobility rate who move a lot. We have many students who don’t have typical family structures,” Williamson said.

Checking around other districts, Hudson reports zero computer devices missing since last year. None. Cleveland reports only 24. Two dozen out of  35,000 given to students.

The Cleveland Teachers Union agrees, there has not been a big problem in Cleveland with computers disappearing. In fact, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District has no intention of ever taking back the equipment handed out for online learning even when the COVID-19 outbreak is over.

Not clear why the numbers are so different in Akron.

Sharon Irby is a parent in Cleveland also working to help students with online schoolwork. She’s watching this closely.

“You don’t want the devices to be taken advantage of or be utilized for other than what they should be utilized for,” Irby said.

Computer equipment has never been more important than it is now for school kids everywhere.

“Without that device, there’s no way to get what they need to get for their education,” Irby said.

Akron schools file a police report for every missing or stolen computer, and the district files claims with an insurance company.

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