Palm Beach County School Board Prepares To Adopt Collection Policy
BY: STAFF REPORT | BocaNewsNow.com
BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2021 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — Parents prepare: if the Chromebook or other device given to your child at the onset of COVID-19 isn’t returned — or isn’t returned in good shape — you may be charged for the damage or replacement cost. An alternative: your child may need to perform community service work.
The Palm Beach County School District’s School Board is preparing to adopt policy that authorizes school officials to make “reasonable” attempts to collect “obligations” if there are issues with the return of devices. All devices are expected to be collected at the end of this school year.
The Palm Beach County School District found itself in an expedited need for tens of thousands of Chromebooks and other take-home devices when “Distance Learning” became a way of life in March of 2020. While many schools in the district already had devices to assign to students, a significant portion of the school district did not. There are roughly 180,000 students in the Palm Beach County School District.
While Chromebooks are often valued at just a few hundred dollars, that is significant amount of money for many families in the region. It appears that the School Board is acknowledging that and taking a soft approach — for now — in its efforts to collect debt. Families that can’t pay may be given the opportunity for community service work to “pay off” the debt with mandatory volunteerism. Whether that debt — whether monetarily or community service-wise — could become an issue when elementary school aged kids are ready to graduate high school years down the road is unclear.
Here is the language being proposed for adoption at a school board meeting in early May:
“Any student with electronic device obligations at the end of the school year will be placed on the obligation list; the parent/guardian shall be notified; and the principal/designee shall make reasonable collection efforts.
Principals/designees will consider the circumstances of each student with a lost/damaged device and work with parents/guardians to find ways to satisfy student obligations on a non-discriminatory basis.
Principals/designees shall follow the established processes for the determination of consequences for lack of payment as found in School Board Policy 8.1225 – Instructional Materials Accountability section 4.c.v, with a preference for community service hours as the main means of obligation collection if payment is not made.”
Distance Learning for the Palm Beach County School District ends at the end of this school year in mid-June. Families opting to continue with Distance Learning must enroll in Florida Virtual Academy which provides its own equipment.
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