By City News Service from the LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/1tCWOt7
Posted: 08/25/14, 10:58 PM PDT | Updated: 7AM 8/26 | LOS ANGELES :: Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy insisted on Tuesday he is not scrapping the $1 billion effort to provide all students with iPads or laptops, but he wants to solicit new bids for future phases of the program in light of alleged improprieties in the awarding of the original contracts.
“As stated very clearly in my recent memo to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, I have directed that we halt our use of the current Apple Inc. contract and implement a new Request for Proposals solicitation for personal computing devices before bringing future phases of the (Common Core Technology Project) to the board for approval,” Deasy said.
“We remain committed to providing students devices that support their access to a world of learning and discovery so they are better prepared to graduate college and career ready,” he said.
The district’s handling of the original contract to provide students with iPads came into question last week after the release of emails and other documents to KPCC-FM (89.3) radio and the Los Angeles Times. The documents showed that Deasy and his former chief deputy, Jaime Aquino, had been discussing the technology program with executives from Apple and education publisher Pearson at least two years before the bidding process ended and contracts were approved.
Although there was no evidence that Deasy tried to steer the bidding results in favor of the companies, the documents showed that the superintendent and other officials had been collaborating closely with the firms, The Times reported. The District Attorney’s Office reviewed a report on the program prepared by the district’s inspector general, but found no criminal wrongdoing in the bidding process, the paper reported.
The Times also reported last week that a committee report being prepared by the district found the bidding process was flawed, creating the appearance of an unfair process.
Deasy sent a letter to the school board Monday announcing his decision to seek new bids. But critics still lashed out at the superintendent.
“The superintendent does not get to just say, ‘never mind’ after all the problems the iPad rollout caused this district,” according to a statement from United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing the district’s teachers. “Students, parents and educators have a right to know what happened.”
UTLA officials said they plan to attend today’s school board meeting, “demanding some answers.”
Deasy said re-bidding the technology program will help the district streamline the effort by taking into account “successes and concerns learned in the initial phases of the CCTP.”
“We will incorporate the lessons learned from the original procurement process, including the inital phases and the laptop pilot,” he said. “Specifically, we will be re-visiting the criteria on which original specifications were based, as well as review vendor responses and student feedback from the original tablet deployment and laptop pilot.”
Deasy noted, however, that he fully expects Apple and Pearson to take part in the re-bidding process.
“We look forward to refining our processes and ultimately achieve our vision to equip every one of our students with a personal computing device to help them succeed in the 21st Century,” Deasy said. “This is exactly what our students need and deserve.”