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August 8, 2013

400 iPads stolen from high school

TERRE HAUTE — Sullivan County authorities are investigating the theft of more than 400 iPads from North Central High School in Farmersburg sometime between 8 p.m. Tuesday and 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The iPads and related equipment, including chargers and computers monitors, are valued at more than $200,000, said Mark Baker, superintendent of Northeast School Corp.

“It’s devastating,” he said Wednesday evening. “We’re back to nothing. We don’t even have enough textbooks to give to kids. … We’ll have to do a lot of photocopying.”

School starts Wednesday.

The iPads were for both North Central and Union high school students. Last year, the district initiated the new program in which every high school student in grades 9 through 12 received an iPad as part of the move toward a digital curriculum. Students rent them similar to textbooks.

The district also put wireless networks in all of its buildings. To finance the initiative, the district refinanced some construction bonds and obtained technology loans through the Indiana Department of Education.

According to Baker, 30 of the iPads were brand new and still in the box, while others from last year had been reconditioned and placed in OtterBox covers. Most of those stolen were for students.

The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department and Indiana State Police are investigating.

Baker said the district is looking into insurance coverage. If the district doesn’t recover the stolen ones, officials “are hoping and praying” that insurance will cover replacement costs — but it could take a while before they could get new ones.

He noted that between this year and last year, the school has had about $4 million worth of work on such things as heating/cooling, windows, lighting and flooring. People have been excited about the start of the new school year, and then, “This happens. It’s a huge setback.”

For the time being, the high schools will go back to a more traditional curriculum. “We’ll do the best we can. Educators are great at being flexible; we’ll do what we need to do to meet the needs of students,” Baker said.

Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Dave Haddix said a window was broken out to gain entry, and the theft probably involved someone inside passing them out the window to another person, the Associated Press reported.

The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department asks that anyone with information about the theft contact 812-268-4308.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

 

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