Update: Superintendent Michael Thurmond issued this statement in response to complaints like the one below from a DeKalb parent trying to use the online lottery registration:
On behalf of the DeKalb County School District, I apologize for any inconvenience or delay experienced by parents attempting to utilize our online school choice application process.
During the first day of registration, yesterday, we experienced a significant increase in choice applications. Despite technical problems we were able to process more than 500 online applications. This large volume of traffic combined with the integration of a new online choice system caused some delay and confusion for some parents.
Today, we processed another 700 online applications by 10 a.m.
The IT Department and the School Choice Office are working around the clock to resolve the issues that have been reported. In response, we have implemented an enhanced technical assistance and support plan.
We have already put in place the following to assist our parents:
- A Parent Support Center is staffed with 10 telephone lines including 678.676.0035 and 678.676.0205.
- The Support Center is available daily from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
- Contact information for the Support Center is posted on the District website (http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/school-choice) and on the District ePortal.
We will continue to provide our parents with updates and support on the District website and social media outlets including @DeKalbSchools for Twitter and Instagram and /DeKalbCountySchoolDistrict for Facebook.
Michael L. Thurmond
DeKalb County School District
Here is the original blog from yesterday:
If I were DeKalb Superintendent Michael Thurmond, I would copy the letter below from a frustrated DeKalb parent trying to access an online lottery form for Kittredge Magnet School and send it to the appropriate employee with this note: “This is unacceptable. Fix this today.”
When school systems botch simple stuff like this, it makes you wonder how well they handle the big things. While this note is from a DeKalb parent, I have had my share of problems with parent portals and online registrations.
The first line of defense from school systems is usually the parent did something wrong. I am sure parents mess up, but I have run into problems caused by glitches in the system.
Here’s a simple rule: If you are going to have online registration of any sort, make sure it works. (The President can share his experiences from the disastrous roll out of his healthcare sign-up page. Obama’s famous joke on that debacle was, “In 2008 my slogan was, ‘Yes we can,’ in 2013 my slogan was Control, Alt, Delete.’”)
I would like to share with you the experience my wife and I had this morning trying to register our third grader for one of the DCSS magnet programs. After receiving his scores from the latest battery of tests, we learned he was eligible for the Kittredge Magnet program lottery. Wanting all options available to our child, my wife and I decided to sign him up for the lottery.
Information sent home from his school initially stated the online lottery registration system through eportal would be up and running in late January. Then, in late January some more information came home saying that it was supposed to be up and running by Feb. 2. Then a notice posted on the DCSS website stated that it would be ready by the 10th.
My wife got a little frustrated by the delays, but I work in IT so I understand how complicated these things can be to get right. I told her not to worry -- they just want to get all the bugs worked out before they went live.
So this morning, anticipating smooth sailing, we log on to the eportal system, click through the required clicks to the page where it says:
"If your child is a current DeKalb County School District (DCSD) student, please click the student number of your student on the "Not Registered" box. This option will assist you by filling in 90% of the Application for you!!"
Two exclamation points!!
Our son is listed there along with his student number, so we click on the number and....we get a blank form, nothing filled out. OK, so maybe they didn't get all the bugs worked out. No matter.
We love our son, so we will just take the extra time to fill out the online form manually. The first drop-down on the form is labeled "Student Type." We click on it and are given the following options: "Private School," "Home School" and "Another District." DCSS is not listed as an option. We try filling in some of the other fields in the form, but none of them work and we keep getting a pop-up prompting us to choose one of the options under "Student Type" first.
Now my wife and I are both frustrated. After a lot more clicking we finally find a phone number to call (678-676-0035, in case you would like to try it yourself.) First five times we try it is busy. Finally, lucky No. 6, it rings... and rings... and keeps ringing for what seems an eternity (maybe 15 seconds) until finally a recorded voice says that there is no voicemail set up for this number so we can't leave a voice message.
Last ditch effort: We try the main DCSS website and search for a number or email address to contact about issues with eportal. But the only mention we find about assistance with any kind of online system is this statement under one of the IT department pages:
"Our software engineers do not provide direct technical support for the eSIS applications, their primary responsibility is to:" and then it lists a bunch of stuff nobody cares about.
(FYI: eSIS is the Parent Portal - different than the eportal - that was recently replaced by the Infinite Campus Portal.)
We decided to enroll in the lottery the old fashioned way: print out a paper form, fill it out and take it down to DCSS office. Will let you know how that goes.