RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Auditors have discovered why thousands of Chromebook laptops at Richmond Public Schools were unaccounted for this school year, citing some former students still having possession of a device and current students with more than one device.
RPS purchased about 44,000 Chromebooks to help students with virtual learning during the pandemic. The school system used federal Cares Act money to buy them.
In October, the school board was alerted to thousands of devices that were unaccounted for, so they ordered an audit to find out where they went.
In May, school board members received the auditor’s report.
The auditor’s findings said 1,816 Chromebooks — worth $513,000 — were assigned to former or inactive RPS students.
According to the report, “There does not appear to be a formal process in place to monitor the collection of Chromebooks when students leave RPS. Additionally, there is no formal process in place to ensure Chromebooks are returned to RPS by June 30th following the closing of schools for summer break.”
Auditors also reported 2,072 active students were assigned multiple Chromebooks.
“Active students had between two and five Chromebooks assigned to them with an aggregate value of $585,000. During our meetings with School Designees we were informed that there were no formal procedures for retrieval of Chromebooks from students who had not returned their previously issued Chromebooks,” the report said.
Finally, the auditor’s report said an excessive number of Chromebooks are unassigned.
The report said 20,672 active and available spare devices–worth $5.8 million–were not assigned to students.
RPS said some devices are in depot and others are stored at schools as spares.
Jonathan Young, a Richmond school board member, said they are working on a formal process to retrieve those Chromebooks from former students which costs them more than $1 million.
“It’s incumbent on my colleagues and me to reach out to those students and encourage them to come back to Richmond. We hope that they’ll come back to Richmond Public Schools in the interim to return their devices because we have thousands of students still in Richmond public Schools that could benefit from those Chromebooks,” he said.