Report shows Pittsburgh Public Schools still hasn’t distributed devices to all students

New report outlines struggle for Pittsburgh Public Schools to get remote learning devices

PITTSBURGH — A new report shows Pittsburgh Public Schools still hasn’t received and distributed devices to all students and staff members, and that the state still hasn’t reimbursed the district for the millions of dollars spent to get them.

The report, titled “Pittsburgh Public Schools’ Virtual Learning and Device Distribution Plan for the 2020-2021 Academic Year,” was released Wednesday from City Controller Michael Lamb.

Content Continues Below

According to the report, district leaders wanted to provide every student and teacher with a device with access to a reliable internet connection. The first order was placed on April 19, but supply chain issues and CARES Act delays led to problems with the next orders. This led school leaders to move the first day of school back to Sept. 8.

The report said 17,719 devices have been received out of a total of 23,719 ordered. The report said the final shipment of 6,000 laptops should have arrived sometime in early November.

Six thousand Dell 3190 laptops ordered on July 9 had not yet been received by the time the report was put together. Additionally, an earlier shipment of Chromebooks was significantly delayed “due to human rights violations” at the plant where they were being manufactured in China, and U.S. Customs rejected the order.

The report said thousands of students still didn’t have devices. On Thursday, a district spokesperson said that number was down to about 200, and those devices are expected to arrive this week.

“At first, it was mayhem. Nobody had the updated devices. Some of the devices were made before the kids were even born. My wife went above and beyond to get the devices from the public school center in South Side. I ran down to pick it up. We got it all hooked up. The school was very helpful helping us set it up,” Jeff Farrell, a parent in the district, said.

The report found that the district was spending $10,798,042 on obtaining the devices, including warranties and accessories. To date, the district has only been reimbursed $1,760,023.74 for the purchases from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The agency was in charge of doling out part of the $13.7 billion CARES Act funding from a bill signed into law in March.

In terms of student participation in virtual learning, the report found 930 K-12 students had not yet logged onto the system, about 4.29% of all students. That number, the district said Thursday, has dropped significantly.

PWSA pleads guilty to dumping sludge into Allegheny River, falsifying reports