I have two iPad minis and 2 older iPads (I think a gen 2 and a gen 3). All have some minor or major screen cracks but otherwise work fine. These belonged to kids who do not remember the passwords nor were they ever backed up anywhere. So, we can’t get into them to wipe them clean. Are these basically just junk at this point?
From messing with iPhones at work that sometimes end up in weird states, I'd expect you should be able to put an iPad into recovery mode and erase what's on it and start over. You may run into a snag trying to activate it if you aren't able to get into whatever Apple ID it is assigned to. If you can't get past the Apple ID lock then the hardware is probably essentially garbage at that point.
Reality may differ depending on the specific age/model/version of iOS involved, of course, but that's the general gist of how your situation is likely to go.
I can’t get into the iPads to run recovery mode or reinstall original settings. I can’t get past the password screen.
have you tried this: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204306
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