Laptop Program Dies after Uproar; A Letter to Parents Is Deemed Too Strong

Article excerpt

Byline: DEIRDRE CONNER

A controversial computer plan at a St. Johns County elementary school has been scrapped.

As outlined in a letter sent this spring to parents of Julington Creek Elementary students, it would have divided classes among students who took their own laptop computer to use at school and those who did not.

Outraged parents called it Computer Age segregation, while Principal Michael Story said it was an effort to expand access to technology for all students.

Story said in April that the letter was too strong and that any child wanting to be in a laptop class could be, although they would not be able to take the computers home.

School district spokeswoman Margie Davidson said Thursday the letter "never should have been sent."

Davidson could not say what the school would do instead, and Story was at a conference Thursday and unavailable for comment and did not return a call Friday.

Julington Creek, in the fast-growing and affluent northwestern part of the county, is not the only elementary school in the area to have classes for children who have laptops. At nearby Cunningham Creek and Timberlin Creek elementaries, similar policies are in place - but there are computers loaned to students who don't own a laptop.

Julington Creek parent Christine Miller said such an arrangement still stigmatizes children using so-called "scholarship computers" and said parents feel pressure to buy the machines. The loaned computers cannot be taken home.

Miller said she and her family have been asking the district to address the practice since August but were referred back to Story. …