Jefferson Parish Public School System

Kris Labruzzo
Assistant Director Student Information Systems
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

 

 

 



After our experience with Infinite Campus during Katrina, it is reassuring to know that our student information is stable and reliable for any future disastiers.


Kris Labruzzo

Assistant Director Student Information Systems
Jefferson Parish Public School System
Jefferson Parish, Louisiana

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Jefferson Parish Brings Community Together
On August 29, 2005, a category 5 hurricane hit the gulf coast and caused severe destruction from central Florida to Texas. The most severe loss of life and property damage occurred in New Orleans, which flooded as the levee system catastrophically failed.

Eighty percent of New Orleans and surrounding parishes was flooded. More than 1,800 people lost their lives, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since 1928. Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS), a Campus Customer since 2003, took bold steps to get their district back on its feet – with the help of Infinite Campus.

Protecting Data
JPPSS was at the mercy of Katrina as the schools closed and students dispersed. Campus staff watched the hurricane warnings and immediately started to back up data every four hours. They were in constant contact with JPPSS and within an hour of the school closing, Campus Hosting had the JPPSS site running at the Campus Data Center, safe from the extreme damages that followed.

“To prepare for Katrina, JPPSS called Infinite Campus to provide a disaster recovery solution. This included data backup and restore to the Campus Hosting site in Minnesota,” said Kris Labruzzo, assistant director/ student information systems. “Since JPPSS staff was focused on the evacuation of their families, the Campus Hosting solution was invaluable.” 

A neighboring Parish was not a Campus Customer, and the National Guard traveled from building to building to collect servers, many of which were already underwater. JPPSS made a good choice with Infinite Campus and its hosting model.

In spite of all the damage, when JPPSS was ready to reopen, they could immediately access student data and begin the required state reporting with no loss of student information.

A True Sense of Community
Prior to Katrina, JPPSS had 49,150 students in 84 schools. After “The Storm”, JPPSS opened with an enrollment of 26,000, the total destruction of two schools and many employees not returning to work.

The committed JPPSS staff understood the importance of opening school. Children were living in hotels, on cruise ships and in trailer parks. JPPSS ordered RV trailers from Texas for their use. Within days, 100 trailers were purchased on the district credit card and delivered to the area to serve as housing, offices and classrooms. Vendors provided emergency food and JPPSS staff united in one common goal: getting the schools open. Infinite Campus was pleased to be part of the community that supported JPPSS during this time.

Come One, Come All
It took five weeks for JPPSS to open its schools. “School brings stability,” said Dionne Alario, JPPS SIS Administrator.
“The community could not get back up and running without school opening.” 

JPPSS invited any child in the area to attend their school, regardless of where they had previously attended. Registration was interesting. Most students didn’t even know their address. No documentation was required, so assigning students to a grade and class was challenging. One student, fearful of not being placed as a senior, dug through the rubble of his home to find the badge that proved his status.

Alerting parents that JPPSS was open and all children were welcome to attend, regardless of where they attended before, was a challenge. The staff contacted local papers, television stations and put notices on the state's Web site to get the word out. 

The students began to return. Providing more than daily routine in this devastating time, JPPSS provided two meals a day, guidance and support for the children, and a sense of community for everyone involved.

Prepared for the Future
It’s been nearly four years since Katrina battered Louisiana with its fierce winds and flooding. Emotions are still raw as the staff from Jefferson Parish remember so much loss of lives, property and friends. But life is returning to normal. Enrollment in October 2008 has grown to more than 44,000, making it the second largest district in the state of Louisiana. 

It took an heroic effort to get the district functionally back to pre-Katrina. When Gustav hit New Orleans in 2008, JPPSS was prepared. It installed a generator for power outages. It kept 20 trailers for emergencies and 100 cots ready. It closed for only four days with Gustav, and again, their data was safe and ready for them when they returned. 

“After our experience with Infinite Campus during Katrina, it is reassuring to know that our student information is stable and reliable for any future disasters,” said Labruzzo. 

Disaster can hit anywhere, any time. Keeping the schools running is essential to a stable community. Customers who are hosted by Infinite Campus have the assurance that they are not alone, and their data is protected and secure, to get them back on track quickly.