Parents concerned about iPad insurance; District offers alternatives

Posted at 6:41 PM, Aug 22, 2014
and last updated 2014-08-22 22:12:10-04

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.