L.A. Unified School District Suspends $1 Billion iPad Contract with Apple
Los Angeles school district superintendent John Deasy halted the district's iPad contract with Apple in mid-rollout, reports the LA Times. The $1-billion multi-year contract would supply LAUSD students with iPads that were pre-loaded with curriculum from Pearson.
The contract was administered in phases with an initial $30-million investment to equip a pilot group of students with iPads. Additional payments totaling almost $1 billion would expand the project to additional students and build out the wireless infrastructure to support tablet usage at the district's schools. Each phase was subject to approval with the option of canceling the project if it no longer met the district's needs.
Deasy's suspension follows criticism of the project rollout and its bidding process, which some claim was modified to favor Apple and Pearson. While issues with securing the iPads surfaced shortly after rollout, the contractual complaints were detailed in a district technology committee draft report that was obtained recently by the LA Times.
Among the findings was that the initial rules for winning the contract appeared to be tailored to the products of the eventual winners — Apple and Pearson — rather than to demonstrated district needs. The report found that key changes to the bidding rules were made after most of the competition had been eliminated under the original specifications.
In addition, the report said that past comments or associations with vendors, including Deasy, created an appearance of conflict even if no ethics rules were violated.
While Deasy responds to these criticisms, the technology program at LAUSD is moving forward with other devices and alternative curriculum being adopted by schools in the district. The district is expected to purchase up to 18,000 laptops with Apple and Pearson invited to bid on this new contract.