Mitts off that kid's iPad! St Paul's plan to discourage theft of school-issued tablets

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Already some 2,400 St. Paul public school students have been issued iPads, and by December, the district will roll out a personalized learning initiative to give one of the Apple devices to 5,400 additional students, from preschoolers to high school seniors.

The Pioneer Press reports the district is spreading the word that the iPads would be useless to anyone who takes a student tablet. To operate one of the school iPads, a user must know the username and password for the device. When an iPad is reported stolen or lost, the school district can remotely disable it, by locking the device and wiping its data.

The Star Tribune reports the St. Paul district is using a $10,000 grant from AT&T to circulate fliers with safety tips for students. The fliers and posters will also be distributed to libraries, rec centers cellphone stores, shopping malls and coffee shops.

Meanwhile, school officials are working with police and parents to protect the school-leased iPads, and the students and staff who carry them.

The district is embarking on a public awareness campaign to discourage theft. Pawnshops also are being put on alert, asked to call police if they come across an iPad with the sticker saying: “Provided by taxpayers of St. Paul for students of Saint Paul Public Schools.” Kate Wilcox-Harris, assistant superintendent of personalized learning, said each iPad has a serial number assigned to a specific student.

Students in grades 6-12 are allowed to take iPads home, while younger students use them only at school.

So far, no student-issued iPad has been lost or stolen, but three faculty devices have reportedly gone missing. The district's lease deal with Apple includes 200 replacement tablets.

St. Paul’s iPad program is the largest ever for a Minnesota school district. It is funded by a $9 million annual technology levy approved by St. Paul voters in 2012.

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