Chicago schools had $38 million in “lost or stolen” tech devices during 2021-2022 SY

Where did all the Chromebooks and iPads go?

A new report from the Chicago Department of Education says tens of millions of “technology devices” went missing during the 2021 2022 school year. The missing devices include Chromebooks, iPads, printers, Wi-Fi routers, cameras, and interactive whiteboards! The report says that the disappearance of these devices coincided with an unprecedented increase in spending on the devices. The report states, “During the first in-school post-Covid-19 inventory, CPS schools reported an unacceptably high percentage of technology devices as lost or stolen.”

Most devices are listed as “lost” in school records as opposed to “stolen.”

In September 2022, The Office of the Inspector General [OIG] reported that 77,505 devices were missing. This represented 11% of the total number of tech devices at the schools. OIG said there were inadequate records of how much was paid for 35% of the missing devices. In some cases, the price of devices was left blank in official documents. The cost of the other 65% was placed at $23 million.

OIG says that by mid November of 2023, 11,800 of these devices had been found. Much of this is attributed to bad record keeping.

CPS Information Technology Services [ITS] conducted its own audit and said only 68,346 devices went missing. However, they placed the total purchase price at $38 million. 

Most shocking of all are some of the individual claims in the report:

  1. Chicago schools spent $2.6 million on services to freeze and geo-locate 60k of the missing devices but recovered zero!
  2. Zero devices were recovered by law enforcement during the school year.
  3. A software company used by Chicago says 
  4. In 6% of Chicago schools, over 33% of all tech assets went missing.
  5. The report says 36 Chicago schools lost 100% of all technology devices assigned to individual students!
  6. Some individual students reported two, three, four, and even five devices assigned to them as “lost or stolen!”
  7. In one school, a pair of siblings collectively reported nine devices “lost or stolen.”
  8. In one school, a trio of siblings collectively reported three devices each “lost or stolen.”
  9. It is not just students; 6% of all devices assigned to staff members were marked as “lost or stolen.”

The mayor currently appoints members of the Chicago Board of Education. However, the city will soon have its first public election for school board members.

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