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Parents at Mt. Erin Secondary College conned by computer company

Posted by: Ned Franklin | 1 February, 2013 - 9:45 AM
laptops

UPDATE: Senior Producer Justin Smith has revealed First Tech, the computer company that conned 180 parents at Mt. Erin Secondary College, was not on the Education Department's list of suggested companies.

The school earlier claimed they verified the legitimacy of the company and made the recommendation to parents. 

In a statement, the Department says it's looking into the situation but says First Tech was NOT an authorised supplier.

Mt. Erin Principal Karen Lee declined to speak on air, nor would she reveal the last time the school made contact with the company. 

EARLIER: Parents at a Frankston Secondary College claim they've been conned by a computer company, allegedly endorsed by the Education Department.

180 parents at Mt. Erin Secondary College paid 15-hundred-dollars each for a laptop for their children, a total of nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

However, Dean Rogers, a Mt. Erin Father of two told Neil Mitchell the computers never arrived and the company closed its doors for good.

"We seem to be apart of a statewide con by this computer company that's taken our money," Dean said.

Image

Screengrab of the company's website, which makes it seem like it's still operating

"Parents were told to order the computers for their kids back in November, but we just found out of the doors of the company closed and no computers are coming."

Dean said Mt. Erin was one of the worst affected by the con, but schools as far away as New South Wales also signed on with First Tech Australia, the now-defunct business allegedly endorsed by the Education Department.

"It's incredibly disappointing the communication between the school, us and the computer company failed," Dean said.

The Education Department is looking into the crisis as a matter of urgency and will be contacting parents as soon as possible. 

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PLAY: Conned parent Dean Rogers with Neil Mitchell

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Blog comments Your Say

  • I had sent several emails to Principal saying I couldnt afford the $1500 up front just before Xmas as I have 3 children and single parent. I asked as I have a friend in IT can we supply the laptop and was told definately not they couldnt load programs for me and how I shudnt be thinking of the money and how this will advantage my child. I also didnt really want to sign a 3yr contract when my son is in yr 8 this year and would only need it for 2yrs apparently. Thank god I didnt pay...... School should be ashamed as this wasnt a suggestion I felt very pressured. Either buy it or your child will miss out..........

    cheryl page Tuesday 26 March, 2013 - 11:09 AM
  • As an ex employee of Mount Erin they do have other options. They can go with reliable suppliers that have been supplying schools for over 20 years and know their stuff. DEET has recommended suppliers who were used when I was there. I have never heard of this company but I guess they took a gamble that didnt pay off. Unsure why they waivered away from doing it a way that was working for them for years. Particularly a company external to Victoria. How was the support supposed to work? All I can say is that I feel its the schools responsibility to refund the parents. Parents get no support unless they purchase the laptop the school recommends. Parents hands are tied if they wish the school to assist their child with technical issues. Parents hands are tied if they wish their child to have the same software as the rest of the class. No support if you bring your own laptop, no programs can get loaded on. I feel sorry for the students. The Principal should be more active in speaking to the press and parents.

    Poor students Monday 4 March, 2013 - 10:43 PM
  • As a school IT technician involved in selecting student notebooks, I am certain the school is lying if it claims it believed the company was on the department's preferred list of suppliers- this list of suppliers is posted on an internal web site accessible to all state schools - more likely is the possibility of some kick back the school would have received by going outside normal purchasing channels. It is common for companies to court cash strapped schools with various "incentives" and this needs to be investigated.

    Also $1500 seems a very steep price unless the devices were MacBooks.

    Steven James Tuesday 5 February, 2013 - 1:24 AM
  • The story, and especially the comments prove why centralised purchasing and technical evaluation is necessary.

    Leave the teaching to the teachers and the computers to the technicians.

    Bulk purchasing and a standard operating environment (SOE) are essential to enable strong bargaining power for software and hardware, as well as reduce the number of technical support staff and skills sets needed to support such a large number of deployed machines.

    Whatever happened to the one-laptop-per-child policy where a free laptop would be funded by the government?

    Solomons' Wisdom Friday 1 February, 2013 - 10:52 PM
  • I am proud of my school and all it has done for me. The staff are amazing and the students are quite unique. The school and it's community will endure.

    CJ Friday 1 February, 2013 - 9:42 PM
  • I'm a senior student at Mount Erin College. This news has been circulating quite rapidly throughout the school and as expected, many students have different opinions on the subject. Foremost, I'd like to say that the price of the computers is a package deal. It includes the machine, the hundreds of programs, extended warranty, a long-life battery, tech support and the bag. Yes, up front the price is quite overwhelming for just one laptop. My year level was the first to trial the 1-1 laptop program and was supplied with a laptop that was recommended by the then Rudd government. Needless the say, the machine is what you would expect from the grants. The laptops that were selected are specifically designed for use by young adults. It was easy enough to identify the tension amongst the student and staff cohort. The school is trying extremely hard to deal with this situation and is not exactly the greatest way to start a new year.

    In response to the policy denying the use of students personal machines. It is a government policy in place that prevents the introduction of privately owned machines in the school infrastructure. I'm more then welcome to use my own machine, but it is quite difficult to study and research without internet and the required applications. It is a security risk for the school to have these machines active on the network.

    It is a very frustrating time for the schools and I am more than sympathetic to the parents that have paid the money for the laptops. This could have happened to anyone at any time but sadly, affected a large majority of the school community.

    CJ Friday 1 February, 2013 - 9:41 PM

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