Education, News

Teachers asked to fill out application to get iPads from Superintendent Mark Johnson

Sate Superintendent Mark Johnson (L)

(This story has been updated to show that State Superintendent Mark Johnson has received 140 emails from educators inquiring about iPads. NCDPI Spokesman Graham Wilson reported 40 on Tuesday.) 

As it turns out, it takes more than a simple  “email me” to get iPads out of State Superintendent Mark Johnson.

Some teachers who emailed Johnson about iPads have been asked to fill out an application that must be returned to mark.johnson@dpi.nc.gov by Oct. 12.

Johnson addressed the process in a message to educators last week.

“We are going to try to fill as many requests as we can with a focus on helping those who have the highest needs for iPads,” Johnson wrote.

He also thanked teachers for their emails, and claimed to have read all of them.

“Only a few were mean-spirited, and most were positive and showed genuine interest in the opportunity to get iPads for your classrooms,” Johnson said.

Graham Wilson, spokesman for the Department of Public Instruction, said Johnson has received 140 emails from educators inquiring about iPads since he encourage them to “email me” if the need them.

Johnson made that remark at this month’s State Board of Education (SBE) in response to questions about the criteria he used to select educators he sent hundreds of iPads to last month.

A Pitt County teacher received 100 iPads after she emailed Johnson to request them.

Johnson also sent 200 iPads to Ocracoke School in Hyde County after the superintendent there requested them. Ocracoke students and teachers were displaced by Hurricane Dorian. The iPads are intended to help students stay on schedule with their classwork until they can return to school.

But some SBE members said they were concerned that teachers and school leaders would see the process Johnson used to award the iPads as unfair.

SBE Chairman Eric Davis asked Johnson how board members should respond when asked “what criteria was used to make these awards” and how to get on the list to receive iPads.

That’s when Johnson responded: “They can email me.”

Johnson used administrative savings from the Office of the State Superintendent’s budget to purchase the iPads he sent to Hyde and Pitt counties. That budget is used by the superintendent to pay for staff, operations and discretionary expenditures.

“Every agency has an administrative fund, and the Superintendent’s budget is one sub-unit within DPI’s [Department of Public Instruction]  administrative fund,” said Spokesman Graham Wilson. “This is an historical practice that predates Superintendent Johnson.”

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