Grant Slater/KPCC :: Second graders Mark G. and Brandon C. play educational games on iPads at a charter school in Huntington Park.
October 18th, 2013, 6:31am :: L.A. Unified School District’s iPad plan has taken a beating: many iPads remain on lockdown, others went missing, security was breached, and now schools are backing out of the pilot altogether. The district announced it was time to slow the roll out to schools.
It was only a matter of time before someone in Sacramento took notice of the critical headlines around the Los Angeles Unified School District's iPad program. Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills) has called for hearings, saying it's time to step back and review.
“I don’t believe the right steps have been taken to ensure proper execution and smooth operation of this project,” Hagman said in the letter to the Assemblyman Jim Frazier, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review this week.
Hagman, whose district is not served by L.A. Unified, requested the committee to hold a special oversight hearing.
The only problem: It was the wrong committee. The Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review oversees state programs.
That's not to say the state Legislature can't review the project. Among the committees that could hold hearings are:
- Joint Committee on Legislative Audit
- Committee on Education
- Senate Education Committee
The California State Auditor and state Department of Education could also take a look at the project.
Internally, the district's Bond Citizens' Oversight Committee approved the first stage of the project, which was financed by $50 million in bond funds.
The committee is set to review future rollout plans at a meeting Oct. 30, one day after the school board takes it up.
First, A CORRECTION: The first phase of the iPad project was financed by $30 million in bond funds, not $50 million, specifically from the program reserve of Measures R and Y. The media and some board members and LAUSD staff have mischaracterized these as “leftover” bond funds – one supposes making them all the better to allocate willy-nilly for pet projects without accountability. “I found twenty bucks in sofa cushions, let’s go to the movies.” That ain’t gonna happen, no how, no way.
Second, if there have been problems with the iPads program execution, the first level of oversight is correctly with the Bond Oversight Committee; but we (I am a committee member) are not the final or ultimate level of oversight. There is the Board of Education and the LAUSD Inspector General. There are the legislative Oversight committees described above, the State Auditor and the Dept. of Education. Down the road I would encourage the Little Hoover Commission to look into this.
Third: There have been allegations and intimations of wrongdoing in the contracting process – that is the proper purview of the LAUSD Inspector General, The District Attorney – perhaps the grand jury - and the State Attorney General. - smf