LAUSD superintendent John Deasy told the school board last night that he will halt a program in which Apple and Pearson would provide software-stocked iPads to students, pending a new process of soliciting bids from other potential providers. This comes after a internal report last week critical of the way that Deasy selected Apple and Pearson, and the disclosure by KPCC and the LA Times of emails that showed Deasy discussing bid details with the companies long before the process became official.
From KPCC's story posted last night:
KPCC's investigation found Deasy and his deputies communicated with Pearson employees over pricing, teacher training and technical support - specifications that later resembled the district's request for proposals from vendors. Pearson and Apple emerged as the winning bidders and were awarded the now-abandoned contract in June 2013.
"Specifically, we will be re-visiting the criteria on which original specifications were based, as well as review vendor responses and student feedback to the laptop pilot," Deasy wrote. "We expect our current contractor and their subcontractor to participate in the upcoming RFP."
It's unclear how the decision will affect the 75,000 iPads the district has already purchased - about half of which were loaded with Pearson's unfinished software. Pearson is not required to finish the software until November.
L.A. Unified’s technology project is poised to be the largest school expansion in the country, equipping 650,000 students with computers and upgrading wifi networks at the district’s 800 schools. The project is expected to cost $1.3 billion.
“I believe the majority of the board is supportive of the concept, but not the contract,” school board member Steve Zimmer told KPCC after Deasy's announcement.
In the LA Times story posted last night:
L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy suspended future use of a contract with Apple on Monday that was to provide iPads to all students in the nation's second-largest school system amid mounting scrutiny of the $1-billion-plus effort.
The suspension comes days after disclosures that the superintendent and his top deputy had especially close ties to executives of Apple, maker of the iPad, and Pearson, the company that is providing the curriculum on the devices. And an internal report that examined the technology effort showed major problems with the process and the implementation.
"Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple Inc.," Deasy wrote in a memo sent to the Board of Education on Monday.
"Not only will this decision enable us to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances, it will also give us time to take into account concerns raised surrounding the [project]," Deasy wrote.
Under the contract approved just over a year ago, Apple had been expected to provide iPads with Pearson as the subcontractor. School board members were made to understand that the initial $30-million contract was expected to expand to about $500 million as the project rolled out over the next year or so. An additional $500 million would be used to expand Internet access and other infrastructure issues at schools.
Deasy: File photo