By CHAZ PLAGER
Nearly 3,000 students returned to classes at Palisades Charter High School on August 16 for an 8:30 a.m. start.
Most students returned to school with no small measure of unhappiness, naturally because summer vacation was over.
However, Pali High also introduced two new aspects to school life that have pushed students from unhappiness to straight anger.
Students had been using Chromebooks since 2016. That purchase had originally cost the school $914,000, with the option for students to use personal devices.
But the days of personal devices and Chromebooks are over.
Chromebooks have been replaced by a lineup of Lenovo laptops, using state and federal Covid relief funding that was about to expire. The school spent $814,100 for Lenovo (and in 2025-2026, there will be an additional cost of $455,000).
Students are now required to use these laptops provided by the school, meaning no more personal device use.
With Lenovo laptops comes a program called GoGuardian. This program transmits a live feed of the device’s screen to teachers, meaning they can monitor anytime the students are logged in.
To students’ horror, this monitoring also extends to phones and other devices logged into PCHS Wi-Fi, provided students are logged into their Pali email on that device.
Whether this constitutes a breach of privacy is not yet known, but students are fuming regardless.
Murmurs of “This is bulls**t” and other expletives could be heard emanating from the line where students picked up devices.
Even parent volunteers and staff were baffled by the choice. One staff member was overheard saying “First Chromebooks, now this. Why do they choose to waste their money when they could, I don’t know, fix the bathrooms?”
“This is an honestly excessive overreach into our privacy,” senior Jesse O’Shea said. “I don’t know what this is supposed to accomplish – it’s just increasing animosity between students and teachers, while not really doing much to increase engagement.”
Second, students must now also use E-Pass, an app installed on mobile devices that acts as a pass to use the restroom. The E-Pass tracks and transmits a student’s location to teachers at all times, notifying them should the student go “out of bounds” or off school grounds.
This year also marks the end of students who were at Pali during Covid-19, meaning that none of next year’s students will have missed a year of high school. I can only wish them the best, and hope that theirs will be a better four years than our three. (The class of 2024 missed a year because of Covid and were on Zoom for 2020).
In the meantime, another school year has begun.
(Editor’s note: To see more of professional photographer Rich Schmitt’s first day at Palisades Charter High School photos, visit:http://richschmittphotography.com/palihighlow/)