OAK PARK, Ill. (STMW) — Oak Park police are investigating the theft of 47 Apple iPad Minis from the Oak Park Elementary School District 97 administrative offices during a two-month period over the summer.

The devices, valued at $14,523, were stolen between June 25 and Aug. 29 from an office in the second floor of the Administrative Building, 970 W. Madison St., police said.

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“We’ve been working very closely with District 97 officials,” Oak Park police Cmdr. LaDon Reynolds said. “They’re cooperating fully. We have detectives assigned working the case. They’re going through the investigative process.”

“Needless to say, we are incredibly dismayed and disappointed that someone made the conscious decision to put their own needs ahead of those of our students,” said Chris Jasculca, spokesman for District 97.

The iPad Minis, which were purchased for use by low-income students, were stored in the district’s server room, to which multiple employees had access. Until the incident, the room was left open during business hours to allow technology staff easy access, Jasculca said.

“It’s a room where, literally, we have [computer] servers for the district,” he said. “The business office has some server capacity in that room. At least one member of the technology team works out of that office every day.

“There is additional work space for other members of the team, so we have up to three employees in the room on a daily basis.”

Since the theft was reported to police in September, District 97 has secured the room, Jasculca said.

“We changed the lock to the room and have limited access to who can get in and out,” he said.

The district is in the process of installing a system that will require employees to swipe IDs when entering and leaving the room and that will keep records of all visitors there, Jasculca said.

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The iPads were stored in the room because the technology team was preparing to add them to the District 97 network and eventually send them to schools, he said.

At the same time the technology team was preparing to deploy the Minis, staff were also distributing laptops to teachers, he said. The second floor houses the technology department, business department and food services coordinator, Jasculca said.

Furthermore, various members of the public had access to the second floor in order to pay student fees and to conduct other business with District 97 as a vendor or community member, he said.

Two different staircases provide access to the second floor, which also includes a conference and an office for the district’s network administrator, Jasculca said.

“Everything else is an open space with cubicles in it,” he said.

The iPad Minis were not part of the district’s recent 1:1 technology initiative, which pledges to provide an electronic device for every District 97 student, Jasculca said. The devices for that program have not yet been ordered, he said.

“With that said, we will not allow this incident to deter us from fulfilling the promise we made during the referendum to further integrate technology in our classrooms,” Jasculca said in a prepared statement.

“We will also not be dissuaded from our belief that the successful implementation of our 1:1 technology initiative will enable our children to become 21st century learners and reach their full potential.”

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(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)