LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Faced with mounting questions about the propriety of the district’s handling of an effort to provide iPads to all of its students, Los Angeles Unified School District John Deasy today abruptly canceled the $1 billion program.
Deasy sent a letter to members of the LAUSD Board of Education notifying them of his decision to halt the effort.
The announcement ends a sometimes-tumultuous program that was plagued by difficulties since its rollout, including troubles tracking the devices and complaints by critics that the effort was too costly for the cash-strapped district.
Deasy’s decision came after the release of emails and other documents late last week to media showing that Deasy and his former chief deputy, Jaime Aquino, had been discussing the technology program with executives from Apple and education publisher Pearson at least two years before the bidding process ended and contracts were approved.
Although there was no evidence that Deasy tried to steer the bidding results in favor of the companies, the documents showed that the superintendent and other officials had been collaborating closely with the firms, according to media reports. The District Attorney’s Office reviewed a report on the program prepared by the district’s inspector general, but found no criminal wrongdoing in the bidding process, the paper reported.
It was reported last week that a committee report being prepared by the district found the bidding process was flawed, creating the appearance of an unfair process.
United Teachers Los Angeles, the union that represents the district’s teachers, called for Deasy “to publicly explain his role in awarding the iPad contract to Apple and the curriculum contract to Pearson.”
“The superintendent does not get to just say `never mind’ after all the problems the iPad rollout caused this district,” the union statement said.
“Students, parents and educators have a right to know what happened “demanding some answers,” the statement said.
The union has been critical of the iPad program since its inception. The union called on the district to take “swift action” in response to “alleged improprieties” in the bidding process.
“UTLA is deeply concerned about possible illegalities and possible collusion between the district and private corporations in this billion-dollar technology plan,” according to the union. This is a perfect example of Deasy driving through his pet projects in a pattern of autocratic decision- making.”