Arlington, VA

Some parents are giving Arlington Public Schools an ‘F’ for an apparently botched effort to put the school system’s “first day forms” online for the first time this year.

A number of parents told us they had trouble trying to submit the forms, after spending time to fill them out.

“After typing 20 minutes of information in 6-point type, the online form just throws you out to the beginning,” one parent said. “We wouldn’t all be trying so hard except that the alternative is to fill it out by hand every September for the next 10 years.”

Other parents said the form was completely unreachable for a period of time last night.

“Each year, parents are required to fill these forms out and return them to school as soon as possible,” one parent explained. “Unfortunately, the APS server cannot handle the volume of traffic and has apparently crashed…  We’re turning in our forms on paper — if they don’t have their act together for something like this, they can do data entry until they get it right.”

Update at 12:15 p.m. — School administrators have sent a letter to parents regarding problems with the online form. A computer worm may be to blame, they said.

Dear APS Parents:

We wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to complete your student’s “first day packet forms” online this year. We know many parents experienced some problems last night and we wanted to let you know that the problems have been resolved, and to provide you some information along with our sincere apologies for any problems you may have experienced.

Yesterday afternoon, two separate problems occurred which may have affected your online experience with APS. First, the new, online registration forms site received much heavier traffic than we expected. This is great news, but the sudden increase in demand caused the server to become overloaded. Recognizing the increased need to support this new service, last night our Information Services team moved the online forms center to a stronger server to accommodate your service needs.

At the same time, unfortunately, SchoolWires, the APS website vendor, experienced an unexpected problem which caused our website not to function properly. They were able to restore service by about 11 p.m. last night. They are still investigating the cause of the problem but initial reports indicate that a virus or worm infected the server and deleted important files. Using backup files, they were able to bring our website back online.

These problems couldn’t have happened at a worse time—the first day of school! But please be assured that we were aware of the problems and worked last night to restore full service as soon as possible.

Fortunately, this morning, all systems are back. Please accept our sincere apologies for any difficulties you may have experience, and thank you for your patience and understanding.

Flickr pool photo by afagen

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