Father Upset with BISD Over Lack of iPads

Posted: Updated: May 25, 2017 06:22 PM

BROWNSVILLE – A Brownsville father said his child’s school district was going to purchase iPads for fifth graders, including his daughter, but the district has yet to deliver the devices.

Jacob Castro is disabled; he suffered a stroke in 2014. He’s the father of four girls.

“They are my pride and joy. It’s because of them that I am still living. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be living right now,” he said.

Castro said raising four children on his own is difficult. He can’t work; his only income is government assistance.

“We don’t have internet or a landline. It’s kind of hard to survive on $777 a month,” he said.

Castro’s eldest daughter is a fifth grader at Sharp Elementary in Brownsville. He said not having immediate internet access affects his daughter’s homework.

Last September, he and other parents of fifth graders received a voicemail from Brownsville ISD Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas.

“This is superintendent Dr. Esperanza Zendejas of the Brownsville school district with a message to the parents of all fifth grade students. I am pleased to inform you that the board of trusties has approved the purchase of computer tablets for fifth graders in BISD. Since we know that many of our families do not have internet at home, these tablets come with one year of internet service. The tablets will be distributed in late October. We look forward to working with you on this exciting project to enhance student achievement and to help our parents connect with BISD.”

“When we first heard the message, my daughter and myself, she was really excited because it said that she was going to receive a tablet, well all fifth graders with one year of internet. It actually stated that it was for families that didn’t have internet at home,” Castro said.

He said he and his daughter were extremely excited. He knew this would help his daughter’s education.

Brownsville ISD was approved to spend $1.5 million providing tablets for approximately 3,400 students. The deadline came and went.

“It stated that they were going to receive it by the end of October, but then nothing. There was nothing,” Castro said.

He said for months he called and visited BISD hoping to find out when the tablets would be delivered. No answers were given.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS reached out to Brownsville ISD. They sent us the following statement:

In the early part of the 2016-2017 school year, Brownsville ISD launched an exciting new initiative to provide all 5th grade students with computer tablets that included internet capability. The district’s intention was sincere and the news was communicated to the 5th grade students and their parents in several ways. Unfortunately, without going into a lot of detail, the bidding process for the 3,400 computer tablets took much longer than expected. The tablets were finally delivered to BISD a couple of weeks ago and each tablet must now be marked, inventoried, chipped, and processed by the Technology Services Department before distribution to students. The school year is winding down, the last class day is June 6, and it is apparent that BISD will not be able to deliver the tablets to this year’s fifth grade students. The district plans to spend the summer processing the tablets and will provide them to next year’s 5th grade students. Brownsville ISD sincerely apologizes to the current 5th grade students and their families for raising their expectations. The district is disappointed that it was unable to deliver on this student initiative this school year.

BISD recently received the tablets. They plan on spending the summer processing the tablets and will provide them to next year’s fifth grade students.

Castro said his daughter is disappointed to hear the news.

BISD said according to state statistics, 94 percent of their students are considered economically disadvantaged.

The district said that is why they are trying to assist students and their families with tablets. 

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