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Pittsburgh parents fed up with virtual classroom issues

PITTSBURGH — A number of parents are fed up with their children being kicked out of virtual classrooms.

Kimberly Hickman has three children that all attend the Pittsburgh Public School District.

She said there are constant problems with virtual learning.

“I want to see the kids going back at least two days a week so they can address the class work that is missed; you are constantly kicked off. And then you call the school and you’re told to go all the way to Carrick for your technical issues. So that means that I load up my three children and drive to Carrick,” Hickman said.

Hickman said derogatory messages even popped up on her daughter’s school iPad.

She said the district replaced the iPad, but her overall concern is how often she says her kids are getting kicked out of their virtual classrooms.

“They’re not getting an education. This is not working at all and I’m fearful for my children,” Hickman said.

She’s not the only parent with concerns.

“My daughter hasn’t been able to sit in a virtual class for the past seven weeks. We have gone through five devices,” one parent said.

This mom didn’t want her face shown, but she does want to see her daughter’s school problems go away.

Out her four children, she said her first grader is the only one who has had constant problems staying inside the virtual classroom.

“The times we do get in she’ll get in. We will be excited. It will be like anywhere to 20 seconds to 45 minutes, she’s kicked out,” she said.

She said the district provided laptops for her daughter, but says the same problems are occurring.

She contacted one of the district’s technology reps, and said they found an error but said they didn’t have administrative rights to fix it.

“Took that to the district. District insists that’s not what the problem is. They talked to Teams. Teams insisted there’s nothing wrong with her Teams,” the mother said.

She upgraded her internet service but said that didn’t work.

“She has a right to free education and she’s not being provided that,” she said. “If an attorney will take my case then I will take the district to court.”

The district sent us this statement, that reads in part:

“To date, our technology team has helped more than 3,000 families troubleshoot matters accessing the district’s remote learning platform. This assistance has ranged from logging into the platform to complete device replacement.”

“We want to ensure all students are able to participate. Our team most definitely wants to resolve the issue.”

District officials told me their team recommended each family visit a tech center, but said the offer was refused.

But as we mentioned, both families said they’ve gone to the tech centers.