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LAUSD superintendent cancels remainder of the Apple/Pearson contract

We knew that there was trouble brewing for the L.A. Unified School District’s (LAUSD) $500 million iPad acquisition program (plus an additional $500 million to improve internet access and infrastructure), but it looks as though the remained of the contract has been nixed completely.
 
The last time we visited this story, the LAUSD announced that it would no longer go with an all-iPad strategy and instead gave individual schools the ability to test out what devices worked best for their students. Devices offered under the pilot program included the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, Microsoft Surface Pro 2, and various Chromebooks.
 
However, the latest revelations that LAUSD superintendent, John Deasy, and his top deputy might have too close ties with Apple and its subcontractor cast further doubt on the program according to a new report by the LA Times. Deasy, who has been a big proponent of the Apple contract, recently came under fire after it was revealed that the initial contract had favorable provisions for both Apple, which produces the iPads, and Pearson, which acted as a subcontractor and was tasked with handling the curriculum for the iPads.
 
Emails exchanged between Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino and Pearson execs proved particularly interesting, with Aquino writing in 2012 before the contract was even awarded, "I believe we would have to make sure that your bid is the lowest one.”


LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy
 
Before taking a position as Deputy Superintendent, Aquino worked for America’s Choice, a company that describes itself as a “highly regarded K-12 internationally benchmarked, research-based school reform company.” In 2010, America’s Choice was acquired by Pearson, and operates alongside Pearson’s K12 Solutions business.
 
Aquino resigned as Deputy Superintendent in December 2013, and took a position with New Teacher Center in March.
 
Deasy defended the actions of Aquino, and his own email correspondence, stating, "Nothing was done in any inappropriate way whatsoever. Of course I talk to people. I would be expected to."
 
Regardless of his original intentions, Deasy sent a memo to school board members yesterday, which in part read:
 
Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple Inc.
 
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 CCTP and receive new information from the California Department of Education regarding assessments.
 
Using newly developed contracts, the LAUSD will provide 18,000 laptops to students. Deasy goes on to note his memo that he expects both Apple and Pearson to compete for the new contracts.
 
However, things won’t be business as usual this time around with the new contracts according to Deasy. “We will incorporate the lessons learned from the original procurement process, including the first two phases and the laptop pilot,” said Deasy. “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.”

Sources: LA Times, Scribd





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