Hundreds of computers seized during a police investigation last year are getting a second life to support student achievement. Once slated for destruction, the Virginia Beach Police Department instead donated 400 computers confiscated from an online gambling arrest to the school division where students at the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) refurbished and prepared them for donation to the school division's neediest families.
In this age of information technology, access to the Internet and computer programs is vital to a student's academic success. In fact, the need to provide students with learning opportunities which integrate technology is clearly spelled out in the school division's strategic plan, Compass to 2015.
"This partnership with police will have a direct and positive impact on so many children across the city," said Superintendent Dr. James Merrill. "Many have never had a computer in their home; never had the opportunity to use the Internet to work on homework. That's about to change and their worlds are about to expand."
The donation is the result of months of hard work spurred by an ambitious Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) staff member. After reading a weekend newspaper article reporting on the trial of operators of an illegal Internet gambling operation, the staff member contacted police and explained how the schools could use the hundreds of computers seized during the arrest to aid in student learning. From there, the police department, Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney and the school division worked together to ensure the donation could be made. Each computer was inventoried, existing information was erased from the 235 hard drives and the computers were refurbished by students at the ATC for donation.
"It may have cost the city thousands of dollars to destroy the computers, instead we can now help the children of our community for free" said Police Chief James Cervera. "This was a complex process, but it is well worth the effort."
The school division receives donated government computers from offices such as Social Security, the military and now the police department through the Virginia Student Training and Refurbishment program (VA STAR). Students in the A+ Computer Repair classes at the ATC re-install operating systems onto the computers and prepare them for distribution to families in our community. Recipients are chosen through an application process organized by the school division's Office of Community Engagement. Since the program began in 2009, 136 computers have been given to families free of charge. The police department will be recognized for its generous donation at the next computer distribution event Monday, Nov. 19, at the ATC located at 1800 College Crescent. Parents will receive training on use of their new computers beginning at 7 p.m.
For more information or to complete an application to receive a computer, parents should contact their school guidance counselor or the Office of Community Engagement at 263-1936.