Maine opens its school laptop contract to other states

iPads are one of five mobile learning devices available through the contract.

The only state to provide laptops to public school students statewide on March 14 said the contract it’s negotiating for new mobile learning devices can be used by other states if they’re interested in following suit.

Maine has zeroed in on five different laptops and tablets as it prepares to replace more than 35,000 Apple laptops in middle schools and about the same number in high schools this fall. The state expects to pay between $217 and $314 annually per unit, depending on which device is chosen.

This will be the third time devices have been upgraded since Maine began providing laptops to public middle schools students 11 years ago. The program since has expanded into half of Maine’s high schools.…Read More

Bidding delays laptops for Idaho teachers

The state has budgeted $2.56 million for the first round of laptops this year, an average of $391 apiece.

The first round of more than 6,000 laptop computers, one for every high school teacher and administrator in Idaho, already was supposed to be delivered to Idaho’s schools this month under the controversial Students Come First school reform plan, but holdups in finding a suitable vendor have pushed that time frame way back.

“At this point, the goal would be to get those devices into teacher and principal hands by the beginning of the spring semester and then give them professional development throughout that semester and the summer,” said Melissa McGrath, a spokeswoman for state schools Superintendent Tom Luna. “That’s still within the law, … it’s just a little bit later in the year than we anticipated originally.”

After canceling a bidding process in June for lack of competitive bids, the state is now negotiating with up to a half-dozen potential providers of the computers, with hopes of picking one in the coming weeks. At stake is an eight-year contract worth more than $100 million, under which the provider would supply and maintain laptops for every Idaho high school student, provide technical support, and set up and maintain wireless networks in Idaho high schools.…Read More

Report: No spying in Pa. school laptops case

Students have been at odds with the Pa. district over images captured by cameras on school-issued laptops.
Students have been at odds with the Lower Merion School District over images captured by cameras on school-issued laptops.

There’s no evidence a suburban Pennsylvania school district used school-issued laptops to spy on students, despite its questionable policies and its lack of regard for students’ privacy, according to a report issued May 3 by attorneys hired by the district.

Concerns about an online chat captured in a screen shot of a school-issued computer led to public disclosure of the Lower Merion School District’s laptop tracking program, according to the report by the Philadelphia law firm Ballard Spahr, which was presented at a meeting of the school board. The firm recommended a ban on remote activations of webcams and remote capturing of screen shots from computers issued to students. (See “Employee in webcam spying flap: Teen had no expectation of privacy” and “Family: Pa. district snared thousands of secret webcam images.”)

Harriton High School student Blake Robbins and his family alleged privacy violations over webcam images taken at home without their knowledge and sued the district, which said it secretly activated the webcams only to find missing laptops but admitted lax policies led it to capture 58,000 images.…Read More

Employee in webcam spying flap: Teen had no expectation of privacy

A school employee says a student had no expectation to privacy.
A Lower Merion School District employee says student Blake Robbins had no expectation of privacy because he broke the rules of the district's laptop initiative.

A school technology official at the center of a webcam spying scandal says the Pennsylvania student suing her employer should not have had any expectation of privacy, because he took a laptop home without authorization. The development comes as the district in question admits it secretly captured at least 56,000 photographs and screen shots from the web cameras of laptops it issued to high school students.

In a court filing April 20, Lower Merion School District technology coordinator Carol Cafiero said officials activated tracking software that photographed student Blake Robbins because he failed to pay a required insurance fee.

Cafiero, who is on paid leave while the district investigates the laptop controversy, claims that Robbins had no legitimate expectation of privacy because he broke the rules. She also denies claims by Robbins’ attorney that she might be a “voyeur.”…Read More