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News4 Investigates finds 124 Metro Schools' laptops either stolen or missing from Nashville families

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - After serving as a lifeline for parents struggling to educate their children during the pandemic, News4 Investigates has found 124 free Metro Schools laptops have been listed either as missing or stolen.

The majority of the laptops – 87 – were reported lost with the remaining 37 stolen.

None of the laptops have been recovered.

It’s frustrating news for parents like Jocelynn Starnes, who has four school-aged children and closely guarded the laptops and hotspots her family received.

“When school was over, they were in my room in my closet,” she said. “I guess that’s why I guard mine with my life.”

As parents are required to fill out police reports when a laptop goes missing, News4 Investigates analyzed all the cases and found cases of neglect, including a laptop stolen out of a car that had the windows rolled down.

Another case showed a father got angry with his son for using the laptop to play video games, took it away from him, and now can’t find it.

“That’s just not parents being responsible,” Starnes said.

The missing laptops make up a small portion of the more than 60,000 that were given out at the beginning of the school year.

The funding for the computers came from the federal Cares Act money.

While parents did sign a document at the beginning of the school year that they were responsible for the laptops, the district has not, to date, made any parents pay for the missing laptops.

“If they have the resources to reimburse us, we would certainly like to have that. There’s not a lot we can do to force them to pay,” Metro Schools spokesman Sean Braisted said.

Braisted said what matters to the district is that each student had the technology they needed to learn during the pandemic and replaced any that went missing.

Braisted also said that because the district already intended on replacing one-third of the computers with newer versions, there will be enough laptops for every child.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Braisted said the district notified police to be on the lookout.

“We contacted our partners at the police department that if anyone did try to steal or pawn them so that pawn shops would know what to look for,” Braisted said.

News4 Investigates checked with Metro Police and the school district and there are no reports as of now of anyone pawning the laptops.

 

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Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the chief investigator for News4 Investigates. His reporting has resulted in criminal convictions, legislative hearings before the U.S. Congress, and the payout of more than a million dollars to scam victims.

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