Friday, March 23, 2007

Ward 3 Phone Home

DC Examiner reporter Courtney Mabeus reports the strange circle of technology at DCPS:

Nearly all District of Columbia public schools in Ward 3 reported spotty or no phone service Thursday, about a week after Verizon cut their service under a District plan to get rid of little-used or unused lines.

Public school and Office of Finance and Revenue officials blamed each other for the problem Thursday.

Phones at Eaton Elementary and Deal junior high schools remained out Thursday and officials at several others reported that their phones had been out for part of the week.

“My concern is, what’s the impact on family safety?” Terry Lynch, whose daughter attends Deal, asked Thursday. He said he learned of the problem on a school list serve.

“It’s unfathomable to me that this problem has carried on like this and nothing has been done yet,” Lynch said.

Verizon spokeswoman Christy Reap said the District’s Office of Finance turned in 1,500 lines to be disconnected under the city’s Zero Usage Project. The disconnects began March 8.

Verizon is working to restore service as soon as possible, Reap said.

Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso sent an e-mail March 15 to City Administrator Dan Tangherlini stating that Woodrow Wilson Senior High School and Eaton did not have phone service.

“Who can we contact to make sure this is handled in a way that doesn’t backfire?” Reinoso asked in the e-mail.

Tangherlini forwarded the e-mail to District technology officers asking for help fixing the problem.

On March 15, Dennis Gill, director of resource management in the Office of Finance and Resource Management responded, saying that D.C. Public Schools had identified 1,175 lines to cut, and later identified additional lines at Eaton to cut.

“After personally researching this issue, I can state without fear of contradiction that the numbers identified ... were provided by DCPS (the only possible source) and this information provided to Verizon,” Gill wrote.

Schools spokesman John White said officials were looking into the issue.

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