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FCPS Assistant Superintendent of IT steps down

The announcement comes on the heels of a multitude of distance learning technical issues for the county.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Fairfax County Public Schools' Assistant Superintendent for the Department of Information and Technology has stepped down from her role after 21 years, according to FCPS. Maribeth Luftglass had been with the school district since 1999. 

FCPS said COO Marty Smith will be managing day-to-day operations until FCPS finds a replacement for Luftglass. 

The announcement comes on the heels of the second delay in one week to digital learning due to technical issues for the county. FCPS began online classes April 14, after being closed since March 13 to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Blackboard, the system being used during distance learning, had several outages throughout the day disrupting classes. Initially, FCPS issued a two-hour delay for April 15 classes, but announced at 11:30 a.m. that classes for the day were canceled.  

"FCPS had worked closely with Blackboard’s technical team for several weeks prior to the launch of distance learning and there was no indication that the system would be unable to handle the volume of participating users or would be susceptible to the security issues that many of our schools encountered,"
Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a letter to families.  

Braband said technical teams for FCPS and Blackboard believed the root cause was a software issue, and that updates to the system would be run, with distance learning resuming April 20.

But on April 20, Students and teachers said once again they could not access Blackboard. FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a statement to the FCPS community, "This is frustrating and disappointing for everyone." He also announced the district would move away from Blackboard and announced steps to improve distance learning that include an outside legal review and a new Technology Advisory Council.

RELATED: FCPS’s second attempt at digital learning fails, district hires law firm to look into it

"It's a little too late to be forming a task force and advisory groups when people are waiting on having digital learning. Now we're spending more time forming a task force and groups and things of that nature, in the middle of a pandemic, and we're still on the sidelines, waiting on what the plan is." 

Potts and other FCPS parents said the second failure of the digital learning website, which means less social interaction for students, is frustrating and disappointing.

An FCPS spokesperson said the district has an annual $2.6 million contract with Blackboard, and that includes an extra $150,000 per month during the shutdown for the extra work being done. Blackboard would not comment if the company is receiving that monthly incentive, as the district announced plans to move away from using Blackboard.

A Blackboard spokesperson said that the company has over 10,000 clients globally and the issue FCPS has experienced is a localized issue.

A spokesperson for Loudoun County Public Schools said the district has an agreement with Google and has been using Google Classroom along with other tools.  In Prince William County, school officials said they have been using Microsoft Teams, and said things have been going well. 

"If these other school districts can do this, we should be able to set this up and do it as well,"  FCPS parent Angela Myung said. "There's no excuse at this point for Fairfax County."  

RELATED: Fairfax County schools cancel first week of distance learning due to technical issues

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