Lake Minneola H.S. offering students Chromebooks

Every student in one high school is getting a laptop, but some parents are not happy about it.

Lake Minneola High School is now the fifth school in the district to roll out the Chromebooks, but there’s so much pushback from some parents about whether they really need the Chromebooks and about the apps on them, that they’ve started a petition against them.

More than 150 parents at Lake Minneola High School have signed this petition, fighting the school’s new policy on devices and laptops.

“It’s very hard to get anything official from the schools until very recently,” said parent Donald Lipham.

The school sent call out to parents, saying “Every student at Lake Minneola High School will be issued a brand new Chromebook.”

It sounds like a good idea, but the Chromebooks cost $32 a year to rent. At Lake Minneola High, many of the students already have their own devices.

“They said please follow these specifications to purchase your own device. We purchased that device. And now this year, she’s saying that’s not acceptable any longer,” said Lipham.

Lake County Schools Information Technology Director Duane Weeks says the new Chromebooks are not mandatory. Students can opt out and will be accommodated in the classroom, but it’s true that devices are no longer allowed to be brought in from home.

“You get a variety of devices and to tune that network appropriately is really a little bit tricky,” said Weeks.

The goal now is to put all devices on the same network and to use the GoGuardian app. The app restricts inappropriate sites and tracks student usage, raising privacy concerns for some.

“Stuff disappears. Stuff leaks out. It’s hard to keep control of that all the time,” said Lipham.

The district assured FOX 35 the laptops are only monitored when the students are logged in on the network at school, not home.

“I know we take the student privacy to the utmost importance and I think they do too,” said Weeks. “I think the concerns are way, way overinflated.”

The district says if a parent has concerns about the policy, the district will work out a way to accommodate them. According to their website, GoGuardian app is used in more $10,000 across the country, including Lee County, Florida.