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FWCS might sue over data system

Software provider will end support

Fort Wayne Community Schools will most likely pursue action against the company that provided its student management system, officials said Monday.

The district spent about $600,000 in hardware and software upgrades and countless hours for employee training since switching to Pinnacle in 2011 for management and storage of student information, including schedules as well as attendance and discipline records. The district spent months transitioning from its antiquated system called CIMS to Pinnacle, said Krista Stockman, district spokeswoman.

“Our teachers had to go through a lot to get ready for this,” board member Lisa Olinger said.

The system allows parents to view student grades as well as monitor upcoming and missing assignments and communicate directly with teachers.

In April, Global Scholar, the parent company of Pinnacle, informed the district it would no longer support the system as of December 2015. The company, in Bellevue, Wash., has also said it will no longer offer system updates beyond patch fixes.

Stockman said the district is still reviewing its contract with the company.

Global Scholar officials could not be reached for comment Monday.

At its meeting Monday, the FWCS board approved the purchase of PowerSchool Student Management System at an initial cost of $423,175 with an annual maintenance fee of $137,925 to replace Pinnacle. The district will transition to the new system over the next year with full use of PowerSchool in the 2014-2015 school year, Stockman said.

“To have to change systems again after just a couple of years, ‘frustrating’ doesn’t begin to describe it,” she said.

Charles Cammack, FWCS chief operations officer, said the district has begun contacting other school corporations in Kansas and Pennsylvania that also use Pinnacle to pursue action as a group to recoup some of the money invested in the system. The district had some initial difficulty with Pinnacle, but was able to make it work, thanks to its staff in the technology department, Cammack said. Districts in other states have said that wasn’t their experience, he said.

“We ought not shudder at the fact of going after money,” Mark GiaQuinta, board president, said.

Discussions about legal action against the company are ongoing, Cammack said, but the district will also look into language for any future contracts in the hopes of preventing another similar situation.

Also at its meeting Monday, the FWCS board approved two administrative appointments.

The board approved Dottie Davis, a former deputy chief with the Fort Wayne Police Department, as the district’s Security Director. Davis replaces John Weicker, who is retiring after 40 years in the district.

Davis spent 31 years with the Fort Wayne Police Department and became a deputy chief in 2006. She has advanced training in areas such as family violence, mental illness and hostage negotiations. She has received a number of local, regional and national awards for her service. Davis will begin July 1 as FWCS Security Director.

Patrick Boles was promoted to Continuing Education Manager at Anthis Career Center after serving as a coordinator for the program since 2009. Boles started his career as a teacher in FWCS in 1977 and for 25 years held teacher and administrator positions throughout the district. He also was a principal at Lakeland High School for seven years. Boles replaces Bonnie Rogers, who retired during the past school year.

sarah.janssen@jg.net

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