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LAUSD sending iPads, laptops to 27 more schools

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Los Angeles school district superintendent Ramon Cortines is expanding the iPad program to 27 more schools, the second round of computer purchases announced this week.

Without seeking new bids from tech companies for the latest purchases, the district may need to rely on a controversial contract with Apple that former Superintendent John Deasy said would be canceled.

"Our students deserve the best tools available to meet the requirements to be successful in the 21st century workforce," Cortines said in a statement on Friday.

Before a bond oversight committee Thursday, Cortines requested $22 million worth of iPads and Google Chromebooks to allow students to take new digital state tests. 

In the latest announcement, the superintendent declared he would tap into a $114 million fund (allocated in January) to extend the school technology program to 27 more schools. That would bring the total of schools outfitted with tablets or laptops  to 106 of the district's more than 800 schools.

Deasy spearheaded the effort to supply all students with a tablet, but the program stalled after reports of missing iPads, inadequate school WiFi and a controversial contract with Apple.

KPCC found Deasy had close ties with executives at Apple and Pearson, the manufacturer of the curriculum software loaded onto many of the tablets.  KPCC reported in August that email conversations between top district staff and the vendors resembled bidding requirements, calling into question whether the bidding process was fair.

Deasy canceled the contract three days later, stating the district would reopen the bid. It hasn't.

"There was no need to cancel the contract," said Mark Hovatter, LAUSD chief facilities executive, on Wednesday. "We believe we got the best value."

Purchases under the latest two announcements allow for principals to choose their preferred device for their schools. Shannon Haber, a district spokeswoman, said the officials were still deciding whether to expand offerings beyond iPads and Chromebooks. 

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