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LA schools' audit finds hundreds of computers stolen, missing; thousands unaccounted for

Bell High School students at an after school programming club. Annie Gilbertson/KPCC

An audit of the Los Angeles Unified School District's computer inventory reveals 230 devices worth nearly $200,000 have been stolen or are missing - and school officials can't account for another 3,105 laptops, desktops and iPads.

"The district did not have a complete, adequate and centralized inventory record of all of its computers," reads the July 29, 2014 report by the school district's Inspector General, Ken Bramlett.

Bramlett also criticizes officials for failing to keep track of who is getting the devices and tracking them when they're transferred to different schools or employees. He said school administrators were ignoring inventory rules and recommends the district complete a physical inventory.

The report comes just as controversy surrounding the district's one-to-one technology program reaches new heights over questions about the fairness of the bidding process.

In response, officials in the district's technology department said many of the devices that the audit lists as "unaccounted for" are not lost - they were simply too busy rolling out the district's new one-to-one technology program to deal with the audit, according to the report. They also agreed that greater controls are necessary and said they were in the process of putting together a roadmap.

District officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, but told KPCC earlier this year the district kept no central inventory for computers. 

"It’s one mismanagement problem after another," said Stuart Magruder, a member of a committee overseeing the bond funds used to upgrade the district's technology. "We’ve got more laptops and iPads going out right now, how are we going to safeguard those devices?"

Bramlett's staff visited 64 schools and administrative offices between January and April to check on their inventories  Specifically, they were looking for a random selection of the $67.5 million worth of computers L.A. Unified purchased between July 1, 2011 and June 20, 2013.

The report seems to describe a district struggling as it tried to roll out its new one-to-one iPad project. It noted one teacher was assigned five or six devices: an iPad, a mini-iPad, one or two laptops, a classroom desktop computer and the latest Common Core iPad. In some schools, devices were locked in offices, untouched, still in their boxes.

Other findings: