Computer Glitch Shuts Out Some Fairfax Co. Students Absent on First Day - NBC4 Washington

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Computer Glitch Shuts Out Some Fairfax Co. Students Absent on First Day

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    (Published Friday, Sept. 11, 2015)

    Some Fairfax County students who missed the first day of school -- even for the best reasons -- found themselves in a scheduling mess.

    A new computer system briefly removed their records and, in some cases, deleted their class schedules.

    One parent, who didn’t want her last name used, wanted to take her son for a college visit instead of having him attend his first day as a senior at Centreville High School.

    “We wanted to make sure he had the experience of what college in session at a big school was like,” Linda said. “Being that he’s a straight-A student, we decided that the first day of school would be OK for him to miss so he could travel back home.”

    “I did call him in absent and followed all the protocol," Linda said. "And I got a message on the phone later in the day that he’d have to come in and get reactivated, which I was confused about.”

    Then, when Linda’s son showed up at school on the second day, he was told he wasn’t in the county’s new Student Information System and his class schedule was gone.

    “It boggles my mind how he could just be dropped like a hot potato," Linda said.

    School counselors started looking into the issue and have given the senior a temporary class schedule, but they warned it could take some time to fix.

    Linda said it was time her son could not afford.

    “Because when you start AP classes, you have assignments right away,” she said. “So when he came home, he could no longer see some of his teachers' assignments, because he was no longer in their system.”

    A statement from the Fairfax County Public Schools said a glitch with the new computer system had revealed a limitation. The school district apologized for the inconvenience.

    “It’s critical for schools to produce an accurate membership count,," the school district's statement read. "Schools are working the first week to verify correct student membership which is then reported to the district and state. By regulation, students who miss the first day of class are marked as “no shows” even if those students are expected to come at a later date.

    "The new student information system (SIS) removes ‘no show’ students’ class schedules,” the statement said. “Schedules are not lost and those students are not disenrolled. Once a student does come to school, the class schedule is re-entered into the system. ... We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused for any of our families."

    The school system doesn’t have an exact number of students affected, but acknowledges it's a problem at more than one school.

    Neighboring Loudoun County schools use the same computer system for its students. A Loudoun school spokesperson said they’ve had no widespread issues.

    It’s taken much of the week, but Linda’s son is finally getting back on track.

    “Had we known, we probably would’ve adjusted plans, but this took us by surprise,” she said.