Orange County student waiting weeks for laptop needed for virtual classes, parent says

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – With the temporary closure of Olympia High School, students have had to pivot to the LaunchEd at home learning platform but one parent, Margo Dinardo, said her son doesn’t have a working laptop.

She said they’ve been waiting weeks to get one from Orange County Public Schools.

“There’s no computers available, he’s number 70 on a list for Olympia High School,” said Dinardo.

Dinardo said her son, Eric, is a 10th grader at the school. He has autism and is an ESE student, based on the recommendation from his teachers, she signed him up for face-to-face learning.

However, with the temporary closure due to COVID-19 cases connected to the school, he’s now at home doing LaunchEd.

Dinardo said they first discovered Eric’s computer wasn’t working properly at the start of the school year when students had nine days of LaunchEd.

“We discovered that his microphone and his camera wasn’t working,” said Dinardo, adding, “we can see and hear the students, but they can’t see and hear him.”

She said Eric was frustrated with not being able to participate in class.

“In the beginning, he felt like he didn’t have a voice, because his peers didn’t hear him, his teacher couldn’t hear him,” said Dinardo.

She said he’s been on a list, waiting to get a computer for weeks now, with no indication as to when it will happen.

News 6 contacted Orange County Public Schools to ask them how many students at Olympia, as well as district-wide, are currently without a laptop.

OCPS responded and said they are looking into the numbers, but added the following statement that reads in part:

“If a student’s device is not working properly or is broken, they may return it to the school to troubleshoot or have it replaced. Schools have a 1 percent (backup/contingency) for devices. If the need of replacements exceeds the number of laptops a school has, then they are placed on a waiting list. Devices are being provided to schools and are being distributed to students on a waiting list,” said Michael Ollendorff.

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