Philadelphia School Officials Worry About Student Safety After Laptop Distribution

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Nearly 300 students at the High School of the Future and Science Leadership Academy all received laptops from the Philadelphia School District for the 2007-2008 school year, prompting concerns from school officials that the students may now be at greater risk from thieves.

The laptops, which average $1,080 apiece, are part of a program aimed at providing students with the tools necessary to excel in their academic pursuits.

Other school districts already have similar laptop distribution programs. The program in the Irving school district in Texas is in its sixth year, having given out about 10,000 laptops to its students, a number the Philadelphia School District hopes to exceed in the next 18 months.

To ensure that their financial investment is not wasted, Philadelphia school officials have implemented certain security measures to protect the laptops from theft. Students will not wear identifiable uniforms to and from school, and all students have been instructed to relinquish their laptops if threatened. Furthermore, each laptop has been installed with software that allows missing laptops to be traced through the IP address being used.

To lessen the chances of harm coming to their students or laptops, some school districts, such as that of New Bedford, Mass., have prohibited students from taking their laptops home.

The laptops will not cost students or parents anything, but parents have been asked to pay $50 to help offset the insurance purchased for the laptops.

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