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LAUSD-issued iPads hacked by students at home

September 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Los Angeles Unified School District is cracking down on use of new school-issued iPads after hundreds of students figured out how to get around the security lock and are using them for everything but work.

District officials say nearly 300 tech-savvy students bypassed the mobile device management security on the iPads when they took the tablets home. The students altered settings, deleted files and accessed restricted websites like Facebook and YouTube.

The district says approximately 185 students removed the security software. The students were from Westchester High School, Roosevelt High School and the Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Granada Hills.

Parents with kids who received school-issued iPads in a pilot program last year say keeping a closer eye on tablet use is a good thing.

"They were pretty lenient last year and there didn't appear to be any problems. However, this year they tightened it a little bit so that they didn't have as much leeway and it's probably a good thing because they have to focus more on studies than on outside interest," said Jennifer Armendariz, a parent.

The LAUSD has now banned students from taking the iPads home and is preparing to get software that will allow the district to lock down the devices and prevent student tampering. School officials are also encouraging parents and guardians to sign acknowledgment forms for households where tablets could potentially go home.

The iPads are part of Phase 1 of the Common Core Technology Program, in which the LAUSD aims to prepare classrooms for a modern 1:1 student-to-tablet learning environment. The district has ordered tablet deployments be delayed at any school that is not prepared to keep tablets on campus full time.

Roosevelt High School senior Ramon Uribe says he did not tamper with his iPad even when he knew that some of his fellow students had.

"I sure do not deserve my borrowed iPad to be taken away," said Uribe. "We did sign a contract that we shouldn't modify it, so I'm going to follow it if I signed it," said Uribe.

Students we spoke to say they should get a second chance.

"The kids really do want to do their work. That's what I used it for, and I just feel like we deserve that, to get the iPads back," said Roosevelt High School senior Anthem Sanchez.

Ron Chandler, the chief information officer with the LAUSD, says the district might start to reconsider its restrictions on certain social media sites.

"There's a reason why students did this. They wanted to go to a place that we blocked, so now we have to have a conversation about what is the appropriate place and maybe we need to relax our requirements a little," said Chandler.

Chandler says the district knows exactly which students were able to reconfigure their iPads. As for consequences, the district says it is not going to "criminalize these students."

"We're going to make sure that there's a healthy conversation about responsible and acceptable use," said Chandler.


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