Thanks to Apple Inc. and Lenovo, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has an extra $6.4 million to spend on construction projects.
That’s the amount of money the two computer companies tentatively agreed to return for their roles in providing software for the school district’s ill-fated $1.3-billion iPads-for-everyone venture. The money goes back in the bond fund for capital improvements that was tapped to pay for the project amid rancorous debate.
The settlement, which still must be approved by the Board of Education, only addresses payments the district made for Pearson software used by both companies as part of the contract. Apple’s share of the settlement costs is $4.2 million.
“That amount of money doesn’t make up for the damage to the district’s reputation or compensate for the amount of time lost by students and educators in this misbegotten project,” Scott Folsom told the Los Angeles Times. But he might be biased.
Folsom is a member of the independent committee that oversees school modernization and construction bonds. There was some question if bond construction funds would be better spent on the school district’s famously dilapidated schools, rather than providing relatively poor kids with technology they might not otherwise be exposed to.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is still investigating the bidding process that landed Apple the deal to supply the district’s administrators, teachers and 640,000 students with iPads and software to prepare for new Common Core teaching and testing. KPCC reported that schools Superintendent John Deasy, who resigned, and top district officials had close ties to Pearson before the purchase.
The L.A. District Attorney’s office decided not to prosecute anyone at the school district regarding the iPad and software purchases after receiving a report from LAUSD’s inspector general.
The software and training program, rolled out with the iPads in 2013, were not a big hit. LAUSD attorney David Holmquist said the district was “extremely disappointed.”
Back in April, Holmquist wrote in a letter to Apple, “While Apple and Pearson promised a state-of-the-art technological solution for ITI implementation, they have yet to deliver it. . . . As we approach the end of the school year, the vast majority of students are still unable to access the Pearson curriculum on iPads.”
Pearson said the software was fine. Just needed tweaks twice a year, like all software. Pearson spokesman Brandon Pinette said, “No digital product should ever be considered complete.”