Glitch Disrupts Prince George's High Schools

August 27, 2009|By The Washington Post

Thousands of Prince George's County high school students missed a third day of classes Wednesday as school officials said it could take more than a week to sort out the chaos caused by a new computerized class scheduling system.

Students were put in gyms, auditoriums, cafeterias, libraries and classes they didn't want or need at high schools across the county as their parents' fury over the logistical nightmare rose.

"The school year comes up the same time every year," said Carolyn Oliver, the mother of a 16-year-old senior who spent Wednesday in the senior lounge at Bowie High School. "When I heard they didn't have schedules, I was like, 'What have they been doing all summer?' "

Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said some schools didn't realize there was a problem with class schedules until school opened and that the trouble was exacerbated by difficulties with SchoolMax, a $4.1 million computer system introduced last school year. He said the system was patched Tuesday night so that school officials could work more quickly, and that newly trained schedulers were being deployed to high schools.

"We're working to resolve it," Hite said. "We appreciate the patience of the parents. We know this is difficult."

SchoolMax was developed by Harris Computer Systems, based in Canada. It has 76 clients, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school system in the United States, where it is used for 300,000 middle and high school students. Telephone messages left Wednesday afternoon with a Harris executive in charge of the company's school division were not returned.

As of noon Wednesday, 3,400 of the school district's 41,000 high school students still had no class schedules, officials said.

-The Washington Post

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