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Students Hack LAUSD-Issued iPads

Some students were charging $2 to remove security software from their classmates' iPads

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Less than a week after receiving iPads, several hundred students at three LAUSD high schools hacked into the devices to gain access to unauthorized websites and social media apps. The security software is apparently easy to remove and some students started a side business, charging others to have them delete the software. Kim Baldonado reports from Boyle Heights for NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Sept. 25, 2013.

    The Los Angeles Unified School District said it was working to fix a "glitch" that allowed dozens of students to hack school-issued iPads and use them for non-educational purposes off campus.

    The LAUSD said about 185 students at three high schools -- Roosevelt Senior High, Westchester Senior High and Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences -- were able to remove security software the district installed to retain control of the devices remotely, accessing unauthorized websites and social media apps.

    Some students were even charging $2 to remove the software from their classmates' iPads. And many other students said they're not surprised their peers have hacked the tablets.

    "Since they have security, you can't use it at home and the whole point of the iPad is to use it at home and it's blocked," one student said.

    When the district caught wind of the tampering, it no longer allowed students to take the devices off campus.

    "We have software systems that tell us a device that has been registered is no longer calling home," said Ron Chandler, LAUSD spokesman.

    He said the district does not look at the tech-savvy students as "criminals."

    "We don't look at them as bad actors, we look at them as students who are very creative, knowledgable and extremely intelligent," Chandler said.

    Still, action has been taken and the district is "ramping up the conversation" around what is means to act responsibly in a digital space, Chandler said.

    Students are issued iPads as part of a program in 45 states to enhance their learning in a digital environment. That includes doing and submitting homework from home.

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