1,800 computers missing from NYC schools, audit finds

New York City’s Department of Education, the nation’s largest school system, doesn’t seem to know where thousands of computers have gone.

CBSNew York reports on a new audit that found 1,800 desktop and laptop computers are missing from eight schools in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens and from the department’s headquarters.

The audit also tracked the whereabouts of another 400 devices that were found in closets and in unopened boxes that had not been touched for three years.

The audit was conducted by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who says his findings could be “just the tip of the iceberg,” raising concerns that millions in computer equipment may be lost citywide. New York’s school system serves 1.1 million students at 1,800 schools.

“Parents expect their kids to be ready for the 21st century and they want technology for their children,” Stringer told CBS.

Stringer told The Wall Street Journal the desktops and laptops his investigators went looking for had been purchased from Apple and the Lenovo Group as part of a $197 million contract for 211,000 computers.

He recommended that DOE use a centralized inventory system to track the computer equipment.

A DOE official, in an interview with the Journal, faulted the audit’s methodology.  Deputy Schools Chancellor Kathleen Grim said some computers aren’t put to immediate use because of insufficient WiFi bandwidth.

Parent Staci Miranda from Woodside, Queens, told CBS she was surprised to hear of the audit's findings. She said she has been trying to get her hearing-impaired son a school computer for more than a year.

“That’s crazy,” she said. “I’m just dumbfounded with the news.”