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System glitch could slow down Pinellas parents seeking magnet applications

ST. PETERSBURG — Melinda Kasson couldn't figure out what she'd done wrong.

As a parent who uses the Pinellas County school district's student information system every day to access information about her children's schoolwork, she was flummoxed when the website wouldn't allow her to register her twin daughters for high school next year.

Kasson, 40, typed her password and it didn't work. She tried copying and pasting. That didn't work. She even rebooted her computer. No dice.

It took going to her kids' school, Madeira Beach Fundamental, before an employee told Kasson they probably needed to reset her password. Four other parents were in line, she said, with similar problems.

Parents from all over the county face an 8 a.m. Friday application deadline to submit their children's top picks for entrance into the district's magnet and fundamental programs for the 2012-13 school year.

Some are likely to encounter problems.

That's because of a glitch that happened when the district changed student information systems before the 2010-11 school year, said John Just, assistant superintendent for management of information systems.

While some user passwords carried over from the old system to the new system, called Portal, without a problem, others were too short to be used on the part of the website that handles student reservations. Just couldn't say how many people were affected.

"It's not widespread," he said. Just said the district has people on hand for extended hours to help parents who encounter difficulties. The solution requires a password change, which either can be done online using security prompts over the phone if the parent already has driver's license information on file with the school district, or else in person at a local school.

"There is no panic allowed," said Dee Burns, who oversees student assignment for the district.

Burns said parents who run into problems need only call or go to their local school for help.

"Let's just talk it through," she said.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (727) 893-8707 or rcatalanello@tampabay.com.

System glitch could slow down Pinellas parents seeking magnet applications 01/18/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2012 12:19am]
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