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LA Unified School District under investigation for bungled iPad program

Kelly Hodgkins, @kellyhodgkins
December 3, 2014
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The Los Angeles Unified school district (LAUSD) may be in hot water over its failed iPad pilot project, reports the LA Times. A federal grand jury subpoenaed LAUSD documents relating to the bidding process for the US$1.3 billion initiative to equip faculty and students with computers and other new technology.

As part of the program, Apple was awarded a lucrative contract to supply the school system with iPads, while Pearson was chosen to provide the curriculum for the project. The investigation is closely examining the pre-bidding communication as well as the bidding process following the revelation that former L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy had close ties to winners Apple and Pearson. Deasy spearheaded the iPad project during his tenure as superintendent and has denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

According to the LA Times, the FBI seized the subpoenaed documents in a surprise visit to the district office this week. Following this seizure, current superintendent Ramon C. Cortines announced that the district is officially abandoning the iPad project.

"We're not going to use the original iPad contract anymore," Cortines said Tuesday. "I think there have been too many innuendos, rumors, etc., and based on my reading of a great deal of material over Thanksgiving, I came to this conclusion.

"As CEO and steward of a billion-dollar operation, I have to make sure things are done properly so they are not questioned."

The iPad pilot program was hailed as ground-breaking when it was initiated in fall 2013. The ambitious program sought to equip the school system with cutting edge technology for learning, but the project struggled from the start. Students easily removed security provisions to prevent web browsing and social media, while teachers felt inadequately equipped to use the devices effectively in class.

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