Cleveland Heights- University Heights School District collected all school-issued iPads from its middle school students at the end of class Friday in response to more than a dozen thefts -- some violent -- during the past two weeks.
Supertintendent Douglas Heuer said at a press conference Friday that the district informed the parents earlier that day of the move through an automated phone call, which will be followed with a letter. The district is working with Cleveland Heights, University Heights and South Euclid police departments to find the thieves.
Angee Shaker, CH-UH schools communications director, said the school district will hold public meetings with the parents in the upcoming weeks. Dates will be announced soon.
“As long as they are being preyed upon, our students will no longer take the iPads off school property,” Heuer said. “The students will use them during the school day and then secure them in assigned charging stations at the end of the day.”
The district began a technological initiative using MacBooks in 2009 with its middle school students in a pilot program and then extended it to all middle school students in the district in 2010. Heuer said that there hadn’t been a pattern of theft until the district issued the Apple iPads this fall.
The iPad features a tracking system, but thieves have been able to quickly disable the function. Heuer believes this ability has made them more attractive to thieves. Shaker said the district has provided around 1,300 iPads to students.
“We hope by spreading the word our students will no longer carry iPads that they will no longer be targets of these thieves,” Heuer said.
Heuer said students at Wiley, Monticello and Roxboro Middle Schools have had their iPads stolen either walking to or from school in most cases.
Some of the incidents include:
- A 12-year-old girl said she was punched by a teenage boy who then stole her iPad while she was walking with a friend at 4:40 p.m. Oct. 2 near Nobleshire and Noble roads.
- A Wiley Middle School student said five boys grabbed her backpack, which contained her school-issued iPad, just before 8 p.m. Sept. 25 while she was walking near Harvey Road.
- Two teens approximately 16 to 18 years old ran up to a 13-year-old girl and stole her iPad from her hands at about 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 3 on the 900 block of Pembrook Road.
- Students reported iPad thefts on the 2700 block of Scarborough, Antisdale and Staunton and on the 3600 block of Monticello Boulevard between approximately 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10. One 16-year-old boy, who is accused of pushing a victim during the theft, is a suspect in one of the incidents and was arrested by police.
- Three Monticello Middle School students said their book bags were stolen during a practice after school on Oct. 11. In at least two incidents, children said the suspects -- four boys or men -- drove a tan Chevy Impala.
“We ask if anyone has information to come forward and contact their local police authorities and the district,” Heuer said.