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Technical issues have made online school registration difficult for some Duval parents

The deadline to sign students up for online learning is July 24

VIDEO: Technical issues have caused problems for Duval County parents trying to sign their students up to learn online next school year.
VIDEO: Technical issues have caused problems for Duval County parents trying to sign their students up to learn online next school year.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Technical issues have caused problems for Duval County parents trying to sign their students up to learn online next school year. So far the district has reported low numbers of families signing up for virtual school options.

This is happening as school leaders try to decide how to reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the district reported less than 7% of Duval students have enrolled for online distance learning. The district said there was an issue with its server which helps process applications.

The deadline to enroll students online is Friday.

“That process has been very tedious. I will say I have tried multiple times,” said parent Nakota Williams.

As of Tuesday, Duval County Public Schools reported 11,000-plus applications had been filed for the online distance learning program, Duval HomeRoom, for the next school year and a little more than 900 applications were processed for the district’s year-long virtual school.

“I just need to feel like they are safe and I just don’t feel that way myself along with a lot of other parents,” Williams said.

Williams said she plans to enroll her student in online learning, but so far, has not been able to get fully registered.

“I will say however, I have been able to log in through my Focus account, but when you go in to sign in to homeroom and you put in all the pertinent information, it’s like ‘error,‘” she said. “It doesn’t go any further than that. It’s frustrating.”

A district spokesperson said it is aware of the issues with Focus.

“There was a technical issue [Monday] that caused a delay in [Focus] account creation,” the district said in a statement to News4Jax.

The issue happened when one of the servers processing Focus accounts stopped or paused. The district said the issue was resolved the same day.

DCPS also fears the process to get students signed up for Duval HomeRoom needs clarifications.

In order for parents to sign up for Duval HomeRoom, parents first have to sign up for a FOCUS account which requires parents to take a photo ID to their student’s school to have a staff member approve the account.

The district said it’s not meant to be an automatic process and that individual schools are requiring parents to bring their IDs because once they have a Focus account they will have access to a lot of personal and private student information.

Parents can call their individual schools to make accommodations and ask questions about that approval process.

Parent Jessica Lizarraga said she has yet to make a decision for her children.

“I am waiting for the school district to decide to keep schools closed but if they don’t, well, I have a big decision to make and I don’t know how to make it,” Lizarraga wrote News4Jax in an email. “I haven’t signed up and it’s because I have no idea what I should be doing in this moment!”

Here’s how to register for Focus, according to the district:

We have a dedicated email for families to contact with assistance in creating their Focus accounts. It is pga_support@duvalschools.org. However, we highly encourage families to reach out to their school as the school is an integral part of the creation process.

Directions for Parent Registration For Focus can be found here: https://dcps.duvalschools.org/focus

  • Create a Duval County Public Schools Public User Account:
  • Follow the on-screen directions to complete the form.
  • Be sure to enter your first and last name, your personal email address, and password when creating the account.
  • Make note of the email address and password you used as it will be used again in the future.
  • If applicable, link your child to your account on the Student Information page by entering their school name, student ID#, and last name.
  • Note: You can connect all of your children within this one account. You do not need to create a separate account for each child!
  • Confirm your account information and click Finish.
  • Go to the email account you used to create your user account and open the email from FIMservice@duvalschools.org. Click on the 'Email Validation Link'.
  • Your email account must be verified within 7 days using the link from the email.
  • After verifying your email account through the email from FIMservice@duvalschools.org you now have 21 days to visit your child’s school to validate your Parent/Guardian account and student link.
  • Be sure to take a photo ID to the school and have a staff member approve your request.
  • Within 24 hours after the school verifies your account, using the email address and password used to create your Parent/Guardian Account, login to OneView or Focus.
  • Be sure to use Google Chrome.

About the Author:

Kelly Wiley, an award-winning investigative reporter, joined the News4Jax I-Team in June 2019.