Parents concerned about iPad insurance; District offers alternatives

ZEELAND, Mich. — Technology continues to expand in the Zeeland Public School district. Superintendent Cal De Kuiper said the classrooms adopted the iPad four years ago.

“An iPad is $450 per student plus the case, plus the apps,” De Kuiper said it accelerates the classroom learning experience.

“We want to stay with this and we will. We just have to figure out the best way to do it,” De Kuiper said.

Until this year, he said the district “self-funded” the insurance on the device.

“Breakage happens, and these things can be expensive when they break so we’ve been looking for some good options,” De Kuiper said.

The district has been paying Genius Phone Repair to fix the devices.

De Kuiper said the district “self-funded” the insurance. If a student broke the device, their parent would pay the deductible and for the repair.

So this coming school year, the district and Genius Phone Repair worked out a $60 insurance plan per iPad. That insurance fee is now the parents’ responsibility.

Under the new plan, a child can break the device twice, the company will fix the iPad, and there’s no deductible.

“The issue there, a little bit, is if I have multiple children that can get a little bit expensive,” De Kuiper said.

Rebecca Lamar reached out to FOX 17 with concerns.

Lamar said, “If I get the insurance for all three kids it’s $180 a year.”

“I’d rather not have the iPad because they’re not responsible with them, the kids, and then they’re a distraction in the classroom,” Lamar said.

She added, “[I had] one kid that was in trouble for playing games. I don’t really see how they’re beneficial.”

In addition to the added costs, the Lamars said they don’t have internet.

“Most of the issue is, we as a parent, if we don’t have internet at our house, and we’re almost forced to, we can’t monitor what they’re doing for homework,” Chad Lamar said.

“We can’t help them. It makes it difficult as a parent,” he added.

Rebecca Lamar said she expressed her concerns last year, but her children fell behind in their work. The district said there are other options when it comes to students taking home the iPad.

“Many homeowners policies cover it,” De Kuiper said.

In that case, he said the district will waive the $60 insurance.

Another option allows parents to put down a $50 deposit instead of paying the $60 insurance. If the device is undamaged at the end of the school, parents get that $50 back.

“If there is a breakage, that $50 is applied to the cost of the repair. So what we did there is, we said it’s a $50 maximum per family,” De Kuiper said.

Lastly, De Kuiper said, “If parents are on the free and reduced lunch program, we don’t want this to be a concern.”

He explained, “We want every child to have an iPad and every family not to worry about this. So our school district has taken out our policy for families that are on that program.”

However, families have to qualify.

“I haven’t really talked to them about that. It’s a lot of paperwork, and it’s a real pain in the butt. I hate the iPads. That’s the bottom line,” Rebecca Lamar chuckled.

If parents don’t want their student to have the iPad at all, the district said they can opt out. However, the district said it will be much more challenging for students to keep up with the assignments without the technology.

22 comments

  • Richard

    This story was hastily researched and poorly presented. The district did not self-fund the insurance for their devices in the past, but rather offered an optional insurance plan to their students/parents underwritten by the district. This insurance plan was offered to the parents at a cost of $40 per device, per year, with a discount for families with multiple students. Each claim on the insurance resulted in a $50 deductible. So in essence, any insured student, who broke a device, was responsible for $90 ($40 premium, $50 deductible). Additionally, multiple breaks in a year resulted in a graduated deductible (2nd break, $100 deductible, etc.). If a student was uninsured, the parent was responsible for the full cost of the repair.

    The insurance plan offered this year through ZPS provides coverage for two claims without any deductible at a cost of $60 per device, so any student who does suffer a break will be saving $30 on the first claim and should they suffer two breaks in a year, would save $130.

    As with any story, there are two sides. One, a parent concerned with the rising costs of education and two, a district concerned with providing a 21st century educational initiative in the most cost-effective manner to both the district and its taxpayers.

    • Darren Cunningham

      Richard, the superintendent said the previous insurance plan was “self-funded” by the district. That’s how the information was presented to me. However, that particular aspect of the story was in the weeds/more involved than what’s really important here. With regard to insurance, I think the main point is… the current plan ($60, 2 repairs) is expected to be a better option financially than the previous one.

      • Richard

        Yes, it was self-funded in the manner that the district self-insured their devices and bore the true cost of the repair; however, the district did not “self-fund” a blanket insurance policy that is now being passed along the student. By sensationalizing in the beginning of the piece that the district is now passing the cost of this “self-funded” policy on to the parents is just careless journalism, regardless of whether you feel the current plan is more cost-effective or not.

        • Darren Cunningham

          Sensationalism wasn’t intended. That’s your perception. Again, this is how the superintendent conveyed the information.

    • monkeyluvingirl

      That’s basically how it is. If you opt out of the iPad madness your child is not offered the same materials and/or educational opportunities.

      • Hufflepuff

        This is the way the world is moving and ZPS is trying to ensure their students don’t get left behind. Every district in West Michigan is moving to a 1:1. HPS, JPS (Jenison), SPS (Saugatuck), GHPS (Grand Haven) etc. It’s not some grand conspiracy. It is to provide the best possible, 21st Century education to our kids. Americans need to realize the rest of the world is leaving us behind in the area of education. Please support our educators who are TRYING to be innovative and keep up with this ever-evolving world of education and technology.

  • Huffelpuff

    “[I had] one kid that was in trouble for playing games. I don’t’ really see how they’re beneficial.”

    So her child gets into trouble for playing games, and the program has no benefits? Way to blame a device rather than teach accountability…

    • monkeyluvingirl

      That’s not to say there are no benefits. There are bigger issues at hand here. There were important points left out of this piece. Such as the fact that if your child has an outstanding balance from last years iPad account their class schedules will be withheld. How do you go to school without a schedule? Many parents are against the iPads, they are a distraction for many, they are costly to maintain, if you don’t have wifi in your home you are unable to complete alot of the homework etc. Parents no longer receive much in the way of paper mail from the school so if you’re not checking the website or subscribed to their emails you were left unaware that there was even a change in policy. So for low income families going to pick up their child’s iPad, the cost is coming as an unwelcome surprise. Zeeland is a very wealthy school district but this does not mean all of the families in the district are.

  • Dan J

    She is too lazy to fill out the paperwork, or it’s “too much of a hassle” as she states, to get her insurance waived? That’s the problem today, folks don’t even want to be inconvenienced to get their handouts. That’s the real story here. Also, she should be teaching her children accountability, not blaming technology. Zeeland is trying to move forward and help our kids keep up with our ever changing world. BTW, my iPad costs nothing to maintain because I, and my kids are accountable for taking care of it.

  • Jenna

    My students have had trouble with the iPads as well. One of mine is a straight A student (very responsible, thank you) and the iPad malfunctioned multiple times throughout the year through no fault of our own. It would take up to 2 weeks to be fixed each time, leaving my child to fall behind because they couldn’t give my child the books and paperwork needed. I know numerous parents who have complained but the school neglects to return calls or send information to us. I also know parents who have contacted the media seeking help to procure this information. I don’t Think Rebecaa was in the wrong to speak up, she just brought to light what alot of other parents have not. As for the financial aid available, some people have more pride than to seek a handout from the government and/or the school district. Maybe we should be looking into how much money they pay the superintendent and try to cut some costs there! What does he really do besides sit on his throne while the teachers are paid crap!

    • Hufflepuff

      Parents need to put their children’s needs ahead of their pride. It only does the children a disservice. The district is willing to offer the assistance; all the parents need do is swallow their pride and ask. When assistance is offered, and the reasons for not taking it are “pride” or “too much hassle”, then these parents really don’t want a solution, they just want to complain.

  • Adam

    As a concerned parent and a teacher, though not in Zeeland, I’ve watched the rollout of this initiative create excitement and confusion equally. Of course students are excited about the use of leading edge technology, and they should be! However, in three years my kids have had issues such as not being able to email from their device (helpful for communicating assignments with parents), sluggish response or poor performance because of the school’s monitoring structure, and a real lack of utilizing some of the devices effective features through note taking and collaboration with others. One particular frustration is the required graphing calculator that we need to purchase (not cheap and not necessarily easy to find in good used condition) rather than utilizing an app that does the same thing for much less. In the past, my kids have gotten included in messaging groups that are distracting and are inappropriate with regards to content being discussed. Although we can disable the messaging feature and have done so with varying results, it doesn’t address the issue of adequate monitoring through the school filters.

    To say that Zeeland residents are cheap or unwilling to be responsible for their children’s education is nothing more than cheap shots at some serious underlying concerns. Taxes pay for public education which includes the resources the district deems necessary to provide a quality education. It is reasonable to expect families to provide basic materials for their children to excel. It is not reasonable to assume that every family should subscribe to wifi, paid television, or smartphone technology. School districts need to look closely at their overall strategy for implementing technology effectively, which may include online textbooks (not used as a supplement), purposeful strategies for working in a paperless environment (not printing off papers that need to be graded), and recognizing the effectiveness of tablet computing apart from media and entertainment.

  • Jenna

    Yes, Zeeland School taxes are exteemy high. If we are going to be forced to subscribe to Internet, plus pay for iPad expenses, it should be school funded!

  • Anna

    If this is the case we should not be required to pay for our own Health insurance, Auto Insurance, Life Insurance, or Home Insurance. We pay all this for protection for our families. To many people looking for handouts I purchased the insurance for my 4 kids I would rather pay the $240 than the consequences for something happening to the iPad. It’s life people i slept good last thursday night as I knew all of my kids iPads were protected.

    • Betty

      Not really sure you can compare health insurance, life insurance or homeowners insurance to ipad insurance on a school issued device. Sorry to say but the comment of” I paid $240 for my kids and slept well at night” is implying that the individuals who choose not or cant, dont care about there childrens education.You are blessed to be able to pull $240 out of your budget to pay for that but realize not everyone is. This is an extra exspense on the parents whatever you feel about the ipad itself. For last 2 years there has been an option for the insurance now this year it is insurance or $50. Which by the way I was told at the school it was $50 per student, not per family. On top of the inconsistencies from year to year regarding the ipads, I havent seen a great utilitzation for academic purposes. Some teachers are better at it than others. But honestly the ones who use it to its fullest potential for education purposes is few and far between. I dont have children who have broken them or children who have gotten them taken away, so this isnt sour grapes about any of that. This is about my child getting the best education possible with the tools that the school provides. And quite honestly 3 years into this I can say if I had to do it all over again I would not have voted this in. I feel the school district had great plans but pushed through way to fast and didnt take the time to train teachers, think through the problems that would arise or have a solid policy in place as far as what is expected from parents and students alike.

  • Jenna

    I know my home owners insurance doesn’t cover the iPad because it’s school owned. ( And most don’t!) Does this mean I should change insurance companies? Nothing is ever as simple as some of you like to believe.

  • Rebecca

    I’m just going to come to my own defense here and say that not all of the issues were even covered in this story. Obviously it was edited to be presented in the way Fox desired it to be.
    First of all, Zeeland Schools offered an optional insurance policy last year at $40 per iPad. If you chose not to utilize the insurance, you were responsible for damages. The school them sent out a letter this summer stating that anyone with a remaining balance on their account would have their class schedules withheld. How does one attend school without a schedule? Furthermore, how can a public school compromise a child’s education by not providing them with proper materials and opportunities if the family opts out of iPad use? This is a public school! It is your job to educate students! The superintendent also stated that families pay $50 per household, which is incorrect. It is $50 per device. Whether he purposefully said this or was actually just misinformed remains to be seen but Fox 17 was handed all of the correct information by me, it was just not presented. Had this not been such a rushed story, there would have been more families interviewed and better information given to the public. If only some of the teachers had been interviewed as well, we’d also know that they are not all on board with this either. Many teachers do not find the iPads to be as beneficial as the school portrays. They are a constant distraction. When you put electronics devices into the hands of middle schoolers, do you really believe education is the top thought to cross their minds? I suppose some of you like to think your children are perfectly responsible and wouldn’t dream of ignoring a direct order but you, my friends, are wrong. Kids will be kids no matter your parenting skills.
    So. To reiterate, the real issues here are as follows:
    The schools refusal to accommodate families that choose not to participate in iPad use, regardless of their reasoning. (And FYI, many families do not have internet available. Either for financial reasons or just because not everyone feels the desire to have it!)
    Second, the withholding of schedules due to a past balance.
    Cost definitely comes into play, though this is not the biggest issue. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover school owned iPads, they are owned BY THE SCHOOL. And many people with financial problems do not qualify for reduced lunches.

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