L.A. Unified School District repossesses students’ iPads as $1-billion plan hits hurdles

“Los Angeles school officials have taken back iPads from students at Westchester and Roosevelt high schools and possibly other campuses as well until further notice, the latest fallout from student hacking of the devices,” Howard Blume reports for The Los Angeles Times. “The move is another complication in efforts to provide an iPad to every student as part of a $1-billion technology plan in the nation’s second-largest school system. The first devices are going to 47 schools, a process that has involved working out more kinks than expected.”

Blume reports, “A week ago, L.A. Unified School District administrators were scrambling to respond when they learned that students skirted security measures that were intended to block free browsing of the Internet. In interviews, students said they had been disappointed at their inability to get to social networking and music streaming sites. Their work-around involved a couple of clicks — and soon hundreds of students were reaching any website they wanted.”

Blume reports, “The district did not respond to questions Monday about having students surrender the devices. Students, however, said they were directed to turn in the devices indefinitely. ‘They carted them out of every classroom in sixth period,’ Westchester senior Brian Young said Monday after school. ‘There has been no word of when they’ll be back.'”

Read more in the full article here.

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  1. Wow who would have ever thought kids would try to hack these devices and use them for whatever they wanted…I’m really shocked that Gov’t IT doofases couldn’t figure out how to manage this properly…

      1. The procedure they used to circumvent the restrictions probably do not even qualify as “hacking.” I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a simple changing some user configuration settings.

    1. As someone who used to work in IT for a school district, there should be no problem blocking these sites when on the schools network, but they might as well give up on stoping them at home. No matter how much you try to stop them a work around for whatever road blocks you put up is only a google search away even for the less than savvy.

  2. Blocking the internet and, more importantly, social media, can only have counter-productive results. I’m not sure what is the proper solution here, but I am pretty convinced that putting up walls and restrictions shouldn’t be a part of it.

    1. Right. They should let the kids do what ever they want. If the kids want to walk somewhere and there is a wall in their way, the must be left alone if they want to smash that wall done. Better yet, make schools without walls so they are never hampered.

      1. Well, my kids go to a school where there are no doors, and many classrooms have only few walls — the space is fairly open. The faculty and staff know what the are doing, though, and you’d be amazed at the level of attention they’re getting from this kids. Apparently, none of them are compelled to run around, even though no doors or walls would prevent them from doing this.

        When you have a good teacher, no doors (or walls) are necessary to keep kids focused.

        Then again, there may be neighbourhoods where not even locks on doors (and bars on windows) are sufficient to prevent kids from getting out whenever they want.

        1. Right, this falls in to the most basic of human behaviors in which telling people not to do something is the quickest way to make them do it. If you tell a person not to look down, what’s the first thing they do?

          Most people, when given choices instead of rules will choose well. Those that don’t, face consequences from which they will hopefully learn. Those that don’t learn end up as recipients of Darwin Awards. Such is life.

          1. Actually it has a lot to do with society today. If this were 50 or 75 years ago students would not take something home that they were told not to. In private schools students have had Apple laptop computers for a number of years. And they take them home daily. The difference is that their parents had to buy those laptops through the school. Those laptops won’t be abused or sold. Hacked maybe? Sure, maybe. But the problem with giving an iPad to every student in the LAUSD is that it’s just a bad idea. It’s not practical. There’s no sense of responsibility or accountability. Sure it’s a great idea as far as a learning tool to replace or compliment textbooks. Wonderful idea. But implementing things in the real world is different than visualizing a grand plan. Somebody made a lot of money here. I’m familiar with Los Angeles and the LAUSD. That’s a monumental task for anyone to take on. It would be easier to implement here in Burbank. But that would still be difficult at best. I have no solution and wish that someone had thought this out more clearly before putting this plan into action. But the LAUSD seldom does anything correctly. They are incompetent and corrupt. They can waste tax money faster than it can be printed.

  3. They probably used a proxy server to do it, its simple, and there are literally thousands of them available.

    Instead of blocking sites, maybe they can only enable certain sites to be viewed, blocking all others by default, perhaps thats the solution that is needed?

    1. I bet you’re correct lawrence. As such, the proxy workaround is very OLD news that any academic IT wonk should have heard of years ago.

      And of course the question is whether Apple should also have known about it and allowed for blocking it in its user restrictions. But I want to know the details before ranting at Apple.

  4. I work with school related MacBooks and MacBook Airs as a side project, albeit in a much smaller school district.

    In the past, we had the machines completely locked down from adding apps, software updates, etc. After dealing with a few students who took over admin access to their computers out of boredom or because the computer wouldn’t do all they knew it could (simple tricks can do this and all you need is a search engine to find out how), I dealt with it this way: We started to treat them more like adults.

    This year, all of the computers have access to the Mac App store and can download apps “from identified developers.” They are not able to change their network and share settings (and a few other things) but, for the most part, they are admins.

    They are restricted by a filter on the local school network but there is no lockdown outside of the school building.

    How do I manage this? The same way the IRS keeps all of us in line: audits.

    They know that at any time, I or an administrator can take the computer from them and have a look around to make sure the apps are legit and I check some other things out like cookies, search history, etc. And I don’t do it very often at all.

    Every time that I have, I have found that the students are doing the right thing — or are very good at covering their tracks. This is far and away a better system than just collecting them all and having $1 billion worth of glass, aluminum and silicon sitting in closets somewhere.

    We have to teach more than tech . . . we have to teach responsibility.

    One last thing . . . whatever system they are using for filtering must be a complete joke.

    1. You also need to implement a ROM password where you can disable the Mac from booting from any external devices and restrict it to booting from its internal drive. No boot from another HD, CD/ DVD Drive or Thumb Drive. It’s very easy to reset the password on a Mac if you can boot it from a setup disk.

      1. To add, it’s called a Firmware password and is accessed by holding down the Cmd-Opt-O-F keys upon boot. Only an authorized Apple service provider can reset it if you forget the firmware password, so be very careful setting up firmware passwords.

        1. I thought you could also reset the firmware password by rebooting after changing the RAM configuration. In other words, the kids can bypass the Open Firmware Password too if they want.

  5. From the source article”
    District officials last week expressed some admiration for the students’ ingenuity, and they discussed the possibility of enlisting students’ help on an anti-hacking committee.

    That is the proper response.

    Last week, officials said that security was only an issue off school grounds and that the devices could and would be used at school.

    This sounds like a communication bungle to me. I seriously doubt the iPads are now VERBOTEN.

    “We are working with Apple to develop a solution” that would allow students to use the devices at home, spokesman Thomas Waldman said in a statement. “In the meantime, our team is working with each school to assist them with options for allowing students to use the devices at their school only.”

    Expect Apple to either (A) Teach the schools how to properly set up user restrictions already available, AND/OR (B) Update iOS 7 again with added user restriction features and bug fixes.

    This is all typical Version 1.0 Syndrome stuff, sad/glad to say.

  6. One billion in a state ready for default, the Feds closing down? Jonny can hack but can he read, write and do math? Can he write without spellcheck, can he do even simple math without a calculator? Can he think for himself without grabbing info from the Internet? Billion dollar idiots.

    1. Uh, thanks to Jerry Brown, Calafornia has a balanced budget and no deficit. You must be referring to all the states with Republican governors where deficits and negative budgets prevail. Know your facts before spewing such blatant ignorance and lies. You should try watching something besides the drug addict Rush Limbaugh who spews nothing but lies and hate.

      1. Are you in bizarro dimension? California balanced, I hope your checkbook isn’t using the same math,.. I’ll take cash from your kind, it might not be worth much but it won’t bounce at least,.. Btw, who do you get your info from his press secretary? Balancing in that spend till we drop parties mind means tax levies that are postponed and writing checks they cannot cover,..and praying the Feds can bail him out. You better turn off msnbc. Take a economics class based in this world not bizarro.

  7. I hope that Apple learns from this situation. This may be a post-PC world, but veteran Windows users are probably using the same “hammers” that they use to “fix” their PCs to “fix” iPads.

  8. This where Apple drops the ball a lot. The iPads should of been secured via bullet proof iOS mods as this is what Microsoft does and they do it very well.

    Apple will learn to play in this space as they learn from situations like these. Stop blaming anyone else other than Apple. Biggest tech player in the game today should have known better.

  9. The article I read on this said the ‘fix’ was as easy as the kids deleting the profile that had been set up. Once deleted, the device was wide open. No clue why anyone thought it was ‘secured’ in the first place. 🙂

  10. “Students” in the L.A.I.S.D. don’t deserve iPads. They’re mainly just a bunch 3rd World hoodlums who aren’t going to amount to hill of caca anyway.

    They should be teaching them prison etiquette and other things they can use.

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