Mom claims student told to 'figure out' getting laptop after phone she used for class died

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston 5th grader got a school-issued laptop on Monday after going four months without one.

Her mom, Aquanetta Banks, complained to ABC13 about her plight. She said her daughter attends Gregory Lincoln Elementary School in HISD.

Banks said everything came to a head last week when the personal cell phone her daughter was using for assignments died, leaving the girl without an electronic device for class. The mom said the teacher told her daughter to "figure it out" herself.

Banks then went to the administration and said she was told there weren't any more replacement devices.

"I'm very, very upset," said Banks. "I don't appreciate it. They need to do better with these children, so these kids can get a better education."

Banks believes there are other children in her daughter's school that also have broken devices that haven't been replaced, but HISD said they have enough devices.

ABC13's Gina Gaston questioned the district about this, and we later received the following statement:

"Since the pandemic began, HISD has distributed more than 144,000 devices and absorbed the responsibility of keeping those computers, tablets, and hot spots operational.

Last week, the Gregory Lincoln K-8 student was provided with a replacement laptop. While awaiting a new device, she had access to tablets from the school's iPad cart during the school day. The homework assignments of in-person students typically do not require a device, but an iPad could be checked out from the school if needed. HISD also has more than enough parts and replacement computers to handle repair demands.

While this student may have chosen to use her smartphone for classroom assignments, it is not recommended because personal devices frequently have personal email and apps that distract from the learning experience.

There are 683 virtual and in-person students at Gregory-Lincoln K-8. Currently, there are 18 students (3%) who have devices that need repairs. Virtual students are provided with a replacement take-home device. In-person students are not on their computers for the entire day, so when they are awaiting repairs, they utilize iPads or desktops while in school.

Parents with questions about device repairs may call the HISD @ H.O.M.E Hotline at 713-556-4636 (INFO). There are also additional resources available to parents at HISD's website."

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