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Guillen Middle School not receiving laptops, parents concerned

EPISD issued more than 15,000 laptops to students at 18 campuses throughout the district, but some parents feel students at Guillen Middle School are being left out.

As part of the district’s one-to-one learning initiative, MacBook Air laptops were given to sixth to ninth grade students, which is funded by the 2016 bond.

However, several schools were excluded, including Armendariz, Bassett, Charles, Henderson and Morehead middle schools which received laptops through the Verizon Innovative Schools grant. EPISD says those schools will receive laptops next year.

Guillen Middle School was also excluded because the district says students received iPads through the Texas Literacy Initiative last year. They say students will receive MacBook laptops next year too.

Some parents however, feel it’s unfair to Guillen Middle School, telling ABC-7 an iPad is not a laptop.

Ike Garza has two children who attend Guillen Middle School. He tells ABC-7 he feels the students would be more motivated to work on a laptop than on a an iPad. He feels it’s unfair to exclude Guillen Middle School.

“They should consider all schools equal and a laptop will help more than an iPad,” Garza said.

Another woman plans to enroll her son at the school. She says as long as her son has good teachers then it doesn’t concern her too much.

“My only concern would be if it were to hinder him getting his schoolwork done on time. Especially if they’re going to ask him if he has to have emails or if he’s going to be receiving his homework, his syllabus, through email, then yes it would concern me,” Liliana Carrillo said.

The district tells ABC-7 the six middle schools excluded were ahead of the the district when they received iPads last school year. This year, as they expanded their one-to-one initiative they dispersed funding and staggered it, focusing on the schools that didn’t have any technology in place.

“We had campuses, looking at different campuses in need, and different factors that go into choosing those campuses, and the programming there and where we could offer a little bit more support. Again, looking at campuses that may not have that technology at home,” EPISD Spokeswoman Melissa Martinez said.

Two middle schools that did not receive laptops this year, Bassett and Guillen middle schools are in a different position than most schools. This year, they received an “Improvement Required” rating from the Texas Education Agency after not meeting state standards.

“What’s important is the technology. It doesn’t matter if it’s a laptop, tablet or an iPad, you have that data, you have that ability to surf, you still have the curriculum. So having that full size laptop isn’t what’s important,” Martinez told ABC-7.

The district says all online tools and resources can be accessed through the iPad the same way.

“There isn’t an advantage to having the laptop over the iPad as far as curriculum goes both are catered to that product,” Martinez said.

All schools that did not receive laptops will receive them next school year.

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