How Many Laptops and iPads Did Chicago Public Schools Mysteriously Misplace?

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You probably have heard the question “Moooooooommmm have you seen my iPhone?” Daily if you have children or grandchildren with different iPads or iPhones. Apple’s security measures make it easy to locate and almost worthless if stolen (except for some parts).

Chicago Public Schools (CPS), however, managed to lose a staggering number of laptops and iPads – approximately 77,000. Since the massive unified school district began supplying teachers and students with expensive computers a few years ago, it is not 77,000 in total. In one year, they lost 77,000 items. This is roughly $23,000,000 worth of lost stuff.

CPS is America’s fourth largest school district with 340,000 students and around 22,000 teachers. CPS has managed to misplace one iPad or laptop for every fifth teacher or student. Each class of 16 students, on average lost 3.4 computers. There’s a problem, but I will explain it in a minute.

Trendline is also a bad trend.

The Chicago Sun-Times published a report this week stating that 3 percent of CPS “technology assets” were missing during the 2018-19 school year, but the number increased to 8 percent for 2020-21 and then 11 percent for 2021-22. Either the students are almost four times as careless or someone has discovered a new source of revenue.

Note that I didn’t say students lost 77,000 iPads and laptops. However, some students were careless enough to lose their equipment. A couple of things do not add up.

During inventory checks, some computers were found, but many others were not. The Sun-Times reported that “CPS rarely uses a tracking system to locate its computers, despite spending over $3 million on it.”

Why not?

I’m not sure what type of laptops are issued by CPS, but I do know about the security measures Apple incorporates into its iPads. Once an account is created, the device becomes unusable in anyone else’s hand. Launch the FindMy app from another device, or even a web browser, and instruct your iPad to play I’M HERE UNDER SOFA CUSHION ANOTHER TIME. It’s quite loud. Click the Mark As Lost Button to effectively brick your item if FindMy cannot locate it. As soon as your lost iPad reconnects to a WiFi network again, it will start reporting its location.

Apple’s security is sometimes a pain, but Cupertino implemented it in response to a spate of iPhone thefts a few years ago. The thieves were stopped in their tracks. FindMy can only be defeated by signing out of all devices or having the 6-digit passcode.

Even if the school district is as big as CPS, it’s suspicious that thousands of iPads would disappear from one place.

The real shocker is this: CPS did not pay for those iPads and laptops — we did.

The Sun-Times reported that “Chicago Public Schools, thrust into online learning in the face of the pandemic, spent hundreds and millions in federal relief money COVID-19 on laptops, tablets, and other devices in the last few years. This marked a major shift in a system where computer access used to be limited, now it is widespread.”

It’s no wonder CPS didn’t use their tracking system worth $3 million; it was all paid for by Other People’s Money. It would be great if there were more money to “lose” a few thousand OPM computers.