NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer is criticizing the Department of Education’s distribution of remote learning devices, saying it forced thousands of students to fall behind.

The department is pushing back, saying the numbers don’t tell the full story, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported Wednesday.

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It was a Herculean task – distributing half a million iPads to public school students across the city during the pandemic. But the process was not without its problems.

“There were some parents that I know that didn’t even get a device until March of this year,” said Tamara Stern from Bay Ridge.

According to a new report by Stringer, thousands of students received two devices in error and there were more than 16,000 outstanding requests for devices by March.

Stringer said that forced especially low-income students to fall even further behind.

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“Too many families on the other side of the digital divide were left completely in the lurch, stranded by unreliable connectivity, unreliable devices and an unreliable Department of Education,” Stringer said.

The DOE said that’s so, calling the numbers “outdated information.” It said more than 85% of the requests filed by March had already been “resolved” and it continues to “fulfill devices requests as quickly as needed.”

“I demand that they identify every single child who didn’t get a device when they needed it and make sure those children get the support and resources to address any learning loss,” Stringer said.

The comptroller outlined demands that included creating a tracking system for the technology, even as schools plan to return fully in-person in the fall.

“We have to conquer the remote learning aspect because, prospectively, we just never know what’s coming our way in our city,” Stringer said.

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Earlier this month, the Department of Education announced it’s allocating $122 million to buy more devices in an effort to address the digital divide.

Aundrea Cline-Thomas