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LAUSD students hope for iPads, prepare for disappointment



King Drew Magnet High School 11th-graders Maria Delgado and Christian Acuna said they're disappointed the school district canceled iPad orders for their campus and 26 others.
King Drew Magnet High School 11th-graders Maria Delgado and Christian Acuna said they're disappointed the school district canceled iPad orders for their campus and 26 others.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/KPCC

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It's been a roller coaster ride for Los Angeles Unified School District students who were promised iPads that would usher in a new chapter in how they'll learn and take tests in the digital age.

The latest dip in that ride came Tuesday with news that LAUSD is canceling the latest purchase of iPads. The announcement came after the FBI seized boxes of district documents, revealing a criminal investigation into LAUSD’s $1.3 billion iPad program.

King Drew Medical Magnet High School was scheduled to receive iPads along with 26 other schools that were part of the next phase of the program designed to place a tablet in the hands of each district student.

Eleventh-grader Maria Delgado says her teachers told her the iPad would replace most everything in her heavy backpack.

"Classwork and assignments were due and given on the iPads so that we wouldn’t carry our binders and none of that — only the iPad, and the iPad was going to carry all the supplies and materials we needed," she said.

Jritza Marquez, a fellow 11th grader, had also looked forward to the day when everyone had a tablet.

"Because there’s some students that can’t afford the technology and teachers are really strict on the essays and stuff like that," he said. Finishing assignments would be easier with an iPad.

Word that students will have to wait for their iPads didn't please 11th grader Rebecca Borden. “I think that it sucks. We should have gotten them,” she said. 

At least one student, however, thought the school-issued iPads would be a distraction.

"It would be an advantage, but then again it would just make us more dependent on technology and there’s other sources that could help us much more," said 11th grader Michelle Rosales.

For 10th-grader Jazmond Summers, the latest development with the iPads program is yet another unfulfilled promise from school officials.

"We’re so used to, like, rejection. Like it doesn’t always happen, we’re so used to that. It’s just like, oh, they might be coming. But we weren’t surprised that they didn’t," she said.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said Tuesday the iPads purchase program would be restarted with a new contract to buy iPads and another agreement to acquire Chromebooks. But students will need to wait until the 2015-2016 school year before they get the tablets.