Saturday, May 30, 2015



By Annie Gilbertson  | KPCC 89.3 |

May 28 2015  ::  Los Angeles Unified is asking for $79.6 million in school construction bond funds to repair MiSiS, the student data system that failed to schedule classes, record grades and track attendance when it debuted last summer.

At its meeting Thursday, LAUSD's bond oversight committee unanimously approved the expenditure. The school board still has to sign off before the funds are released. If approved, the amount would bring the cost of building and repairing the district's customized Microsoft student data system to more than $130 million.

Last December, Superintendent Ramon Cortines warned the board that MiSiS repairs would continue throughout 2015, but this week, the district officials announced they were extending the timeline to June 2016.

In a press release Thursday, LAUSD spokeswoman Shannon Haber said the district restructured its contract with the Microsoft Corp. to prevent “the vendor from receiving full payment until functions are working at schools.”

On Tuesday, Cortines announced the appointment of Shahryar Khazei as the district's new chief information officer. His predecessor resigned abruptly last year as problems with MiSiS created havoc with class scheduling and other issues at Los Angeles schools.


By Adolfo Guzman-Lopez  | KPCC 89.3 |
Audio from this story      0:41    Listen:

May 28 2015  ::  Los Angeles Unified has hired a school district insider to lead its troubled information technology office.

Shahryar Khazei succeeds Ron Chandler, the district's last chief information officer, who resigned abruptly last year as problems with the LAUSD’s new student data system wreaked havoc at Los Angeles schools.

Superintendent Ramon Cortines' selection of Khazei, the district's deputy chief information officer, places a 30-year LAUSD employee and mechanical engineer by training in charge of the office that runs technology operations for the district.

The office has been at the center of management issues with two major technology programs that contributed to both Chandler's departure and the resignation of former Superintendent John Deasy.

A school district investigation of last year's meltdown of MiSiS, the district's student data system, found that faulty management of the project’s various moving parts was to blame.

Khazei, who was picked from an applicant pool of 200, worked on the data system’s technology, according to Diane Pappas, the superintendent's chief advisor on the MiSiS recovery program.

“He was on the network side of the project, not part of the project management team, not part of the application, but strictly on the network side,” Pappas said. “The problem was the MiSiS application and all of the other issues, and it was absolutely not ready to be rolled out.”

“[Khazei]'s got great depth of technical knowledge and expertise. He's been working in urban education. He knows schools, knows the school district,” she said.

The district could not immediately provide the salary for his new post.

In a written statement, Cortines said he’s confident Khazei can help fix the student data system. That job, Pappas said, will take another two years.

In his May 15 update on continuing fixes to the MiSiS system, Cortines said: “While the system has been improving steadily since a troubling start to the school year, there is still much to be addressed.”

Khazei will also help oversee the future of the $1.3 billion iPad program, which Cortines has all but abandoned. The initiative, championed by Cortines' predecessor, aimed to get a tablet in the hands of each district student, but it has been problem-plagued.

A federal investigation into the iPad bidding process led the FBI to cart out boxes of documents from district offices in December. The action followed publication by KPCC of emails that revealed the district had been in talks with computer giant Apple and software publisher Pearson long before the bidding process was formally opened.

Last month, district wrote to Apple to demand a multimillion-dollar refund for nonfunctioning curriculum software from Pearson that was installed on the iPads.

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