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SchoolFusion comes to an end

Lawsuit causes district to switch website provider

Tess Harstrick and Grace Harmon, Editor-in-Chief and Staff Reporter
Originally published June 2, 2015


Cassin Stacy The school district will now use a product called SharpSchool for district and school pages, and one called Schoology for class pages.

Cassin Stacy

The school district will now use a product called SharpSchool for district and school pages, and one called Schoology for class pages.

In 2012, when the Seattle Public Schools switched to their new internet provider, SchoolFusion, a problem quickly arose for some. The previous SPS based site, which had allowed speak out loud softwares for the visually impaired, was gone; in its place, an inaccessibility to school calendars, menus, grades and schedules emerged, as the code required for such screen readers no longer worked.

For Noel Nightingale, a blind mother of three of the Seattle Public Schools students, this was a huge problem. After spending nearly two years talking to various members of the district staff, attempting to find a solution to no avail, Nightingale grew frustrated. “As time passed, I got the impression that this was not a high priority on the list for anyone in this school district,” Nightengale said, according to KIRO TV.

As a result, Nightingale filed a discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the school district last August, and was supported by the National Federation of the Blind. After an independent contractor completed an assessment in 2013, SchoolFusion was confirmed to have accessibility limitations, according to statement from a SPS spokesperson to Komo 7 news.

The district had attempted to work with affected families to provide the information they needed, but as the district’s contract with SchoolFusion ended June 1, it was announced that at 10:30 p.m. on May 31, a new provider for the district and school public websites as well as classroom pages would take over. Teachers have encouraged students to backup all files and folders they want in the future, as all fusion page content and work will become unavailable.

Many students and teachers are frustrated with the sudden switch, primarily because of the inconvenient timing. Not only is the end date close to the end of the year, but it also removes multiple study tools and resources for students that teachers have placed on their fusion pages for upcoming finals.

Junior Sarah Dundas remarks that a variety of her teachers post study guides to the fusion page, specifically the notoriously demanding Genetics Biotech class. “Other classes do types of study guides as well,” Dundas said.

As a replacement, the school district will now use a product called SharpSchool for district and school pages, and one called Schoology for class pages. Schoology, which has a built in gradebook, is optimistic of the reactions from students and teachers.

“Because the interface looks and feels familiar to the tools people use outside the classroom, we . . . are able to quickly and intuitively integrate Schoology into the classroom with little or no training,” Antonio Montoya, Schoology Regional Director of Sales, said. “In fact, there are millions of users that use our Schoology Basic platform with no formal training whatsoever.”

Staff and students should prepare for multiple changes in the final weeks of school, as both teachers and students adjust to the sudden change in provider and attempt to adequately prepare students for their upcoming finals.

Physics teacher Eric Muhs expressed frustration with the district’s choice to have a contract that ends during the school year. “It’s like they took the tools away from the mechanic right when he needed them,” Muhs said. “How stupid are they?”

 

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SchoolFusion comes to an end