EACS parents upset over $100 increase in iPad rental fee

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Hundreds of East Allen County Schools parents are upset about a $100 spike in iPad rental fees.

“Tuesday afternoon we checked our mail and got our textbook bills which they normally come this year so that wasn’t a big surprise, however it was a big surprise that they were $600 for our students,” Amanda Dowell said.

Dowell has two children at Woodlan, a seventh grader and a freshman. Their annual fees went from about $200 to nearly $600 thanks to a $131 dollar iPad fee. East Allen County Spokeswoman Tamyra Kelly said the fee stems from a School Board move earlier this year when they approved new iPads with the Apple Care Package.

“Technology comes with a price and we understand their concern,” Kelly said.

Students can not use their own iPads and do not get to keep the devices.

Dowell said what upsets her most is little communication about the changes.

“There was zero communication from our school board,” Dowell said. “They had many opportunities to notify us that there would be changes and we got nothing until we opened the mail and got our new bills.”

The change wasn’t included in any of the registration papers Dowell showed us, but Kelly said the school started posting the changes in June.

“Putting it on our website, schools all had it during registration,” Kelly said. “There was a tutorial video that was provided for parents to view during registration and at the very beginning of the video it does say this new fee that was approved by the board that parents can expect this to come for this school year.”

Dowell said they watched the video at registration and it simply showed how to use the iPads. She said they never saw a notification about the fee changes, so took the issue to social media asking other parents if they had any idea about the changes. The response was overwhelming.

“Got a flurry of responses and started a petition through iPetition.com just to see if other parents felt the same way I did,” Dowell said. “In less than 24 hours we had more than 370 petitioners already.”

A petition Dowell hopes will get some answers and reduce the cost of the iPads.

“It’s caused a lot of stress for families,” Dowell said. “They don’t have that much money that they can dish out on top of all the other fees that we pay.”

Dowell is taking the issue to the November 1 school board meeting.