Who Pays If Students Break or Lose iPads?

L.A. Unified board grapples with the question of whether to force parents to pay for damaged or lost iPads. It's uncertain whether responsibility was made clear to all parents.
September 26, 2013

Another issue in the Los Angeles Unified School District's $1-billion effort to equip every student with an iPad surfaced Wednesday: Are parents liable if their child breaks or loses the tablet?

The question emerged after revelations that 300 or so students at Roosevelt High School skirted security measures on the device and visited unauthorized websites. In response, the district suspended all home use of the Apple tablets, which have gone out to about two dozen schools so far.
Ultimately, officials want the iPads used at home — that's considered a key element of their educational value. But their dollar value also became a concern at a meeting Wednesday of a district committee overseeing technology efforts. Senior district officials acknowledged that they haven't decided on consequences if the $700 iPads are lost or broken.
"It's extremely disconcerting that the parent and student responsibility issue has not been hammered out, and that different parents and students received different information during the rollout," said Board of Education member Monica Ratliff, who chaired the meeting.
At least three different parent information forms have been circulated, according to Ratliff's office. And the Spanish form was a computer-generated translation that was substantially incomprehensible, said committee member Linda Perez, president of the local chapter of the California School Employees Assn.
At least one form required a signature acknowledging that a parent is financially responsible if a student breaks or loses the device. The idea was that students would not receive an iPad until the signed form was returned.
But officials admitted they didn't know whether that approach had been used uniformly — or even if it should be.