RPS audit finds over 1,800 missing Chromebooks

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) — Richmond Public School leaders face a Chromebook conundrum.

“We have thousands of devices that we just don’t know where they are,” said Jonathan Young of the Richmond School Board.

At the start of the pandemic, when all schools went virtual, RPS was not equipped with enough laptops for its 22,000 students to use at home. Overall, the division spent approximately $12.6 million to resolve the issue.

Currently, RPS is expected to have nearly 37,000 Chromebooks. However, more than 1,800 Chromebooks are missing as they are currently assigned to former students or inactive students.

“In the meantime, we are contacting all these families and asking them to return their devices. Students who are still in the district to pick up these devices that have been provided multiple,” Young said.

Auditors say it doesn’t appear the district has a formal process to oversee the collection of devices when a student leaves.

“We are a neighborhood that offers 75% free and reduced meals, 40% of our children live below the poverty line, are we really upset that a handful of children now have laptops that they don’t hadn’t before? I just think we’re missing the big picture here,” said Liz Doerr of the Richmond School Board.

The school board adopts changes as a result of the audit. The division will assign the devices directly to students, instead of individual schools. They are also working to streamline data management tracking programs.

“I think we have to keep asking questions and getting to the bottom of it,” Doerr said.

According to the report, 20,000 Chromebooks are unassigned. RPS says these are needed for other programs, replacements and repairs.

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