Still Not Willing To Take Responsibility: Mark Johnson, DPI, and Those “Technical Glitches”

Three days of remote instruction.

Two of those have seen major obstacles in accessing the online platform that enables that instruction.

From today’s N&O:

For the second time this week, problems with a statewide computer system are preventing many North Carolina students and teachers from logging online for virtual classes.

School districts across the state posted alerts Wednesday morning that NCEdCloud is having technical issues again after having been down for several hours on Monday.

The system is being put under greater stress than normal because more than 70% of the state’s 1.5 million public students started the school year on Monday with online classes only due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This is a DPI issue.

And DPI is run by one person: Mark Johnson.

His statement below is one that seeks to shift blame – not take responsibility.

Consider that we have been in this pandemic for months now and that we knew even early in the summer that we very well could have been in this situation.

Why did DPI not have the foresight to stress-test the system to make sure it could withstand this heavy use?

Johnson states in his release, “…rest assured that DPI will be having blunt discussions about these failures with the vendor and NC DIT in the days ahead.

Blunt discussions with vendors and NC DIT? Anyone remember the iStation debacle from a year ago that lasted months? In no way has Johnson shown an ability to conduct “discussions” with vendors unless there is some sort of odd previous relationship (think Doug Miskew and the ClassWallet / iStation contract procurement processes).

Furthermore, Johnson has always preached the need to be as technologically equipped with 21st century tools. Remember this from December of 2017?

“Also, we heard complaints from educators and community leaders about the lack of transparency and accountability at DPI. We worked closely with the General Assembly to secure an investment of almost $30 million to update antiquated software systems used by the state and by local school districts, and we are conducting an operational review of the entire department. These efforts will lead to greater efficiency and transparency, allowing you to better know how your tax dollars support public schools.”

Over two years ago. Plenty of time to “test” the veracity of the software.

And the summer after he said that, he reorganized DPI to be streamlined through his office. Below is what it was prior to the new reorganization.


This is what it looks like now.


On the older chart some positions were titled with ALL CAPS and had a thicker border surrounding them. That meant that these people were Dual-Report Positions. In short, they answered to both the state board and to Johnson. However, that went away on July 1, 2018.

What that now means is that those people who held (or hold now) those positions not only answer to Johnson alone, but he has total control over what they do.

He’s at the top of that chain. The “buck” supposedly stops with him.

But his statement just proves that he is just trying to pass that buck.