Lawsuit filed to stop Cobb County’s Apple iBook program

“A former Cobb County commissioner, accusing school officials of planning to misspend taxpayers’ money, has filed a lawsuit to stop a laptop computer program,” The Associated Press reports. “Former Commissioner Butch Thompson filed a lawsuit Tuesday claiming that voters were not informed that a 1 percent sales tax would be used to start the program.”

“County voters approved the tax in 2003. As they did, school officials said they would replace students’ “obsolete workstations.” The lawsuit contends that language was not specific enough to inform voters that the system intended to provide computers for all students in grades six through 12,” AP reports. “‘I didn’t vote for laptops for every student in the county, and I don’t think anyone else did,’ Thompson said. ‘In essence, they took funds designated for one purpose and used it for something else.'”

AP reports, “The first phase of the program costs about $25 million, which the school board approved in April. The system began distributing Apple iBook laptops to some of its more than 7,100 teachers last week. It has named four high schools as pilot sites where students will get iBooks next school year. The first phase of the program also calls for upgrading middle school computer labs starting next fall. The Cobb program eventually could distribute 63,000 iBooks to all teachers and all students in grades six through 12, if the school board approves the rest of the program in coming years.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Slow Apple news day? The Cobb County Soap Opera (and you thought it was over, huh?) butts its ugly head into our peaceful moment of silence. Yippie!

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Cobb County school board approves Apple Mac plan; could eventually distribute 63,000 iBooks – April 29, 2005
Henrico school board dumps Apple Macs, picks Dells with Windows – April 29, 2005
Cobb County school officials intend to move forward with Apple iBook program – April 21, 2005
Cobb Commission chief urges delay in Apple iBook program, says issue has become too emotional – April 20, 2005
No conflict of interest in ongoing Cobb County Apple iBook saga – April 19, 2005
More controversy in Atlanta-area school district’s plan to buy Apple iBooks – April 16, 2005
Cobb County Georgia approves first phase of plan that could equip schools with 63,000 Apple iBooks – April 15, 2005
Atlanta-area school district on verge of deal for 31,000 Apple iBooks – April 12, 2005
Cobb teachers voice concerns over using Macs for proposed laptop program – March 29, 2005
Cobb County Georgia meeting discusses plan to equip schools with 63,000 Apple iBooks – February 24, 2005
Report: 90 percent of emails opposed to Georgia’s Apple iBook program – February 10, 2005
65,000 Apple iBooks for Georgia schools one of the largest school laptop programs in the country – February 10, 2005
Georgia school district to propose 63,000 Macs for students and teachers – February 07, 2005


  1. You know, a few years from now laptops for each student will be commonplace. People can complain and sue all they want, but they are just slowing things down.

  2. MDN – Slow Apple news day?

    Yeh, but one story every five hours or so still doesn’t a busy news day make. But it’ll change. I can remember a day around the release of Tiger when there were 20 stories, and some people actually complained they couldn’t read through all of them. Can’t please everyone all the time.

  3. replacing obsolete workstations is very different than giving every teacher and student their own computer. If the first phase of the program costs $25 million, how much will the total program eventually cost? Just the cost and work involved in servicing the thousands of offsite laptops would be a nightmare in itself. Even though Macs are not going to have a lot of problems, the task of ensuring that each computer gets its periodic system update would be almost overwhelming without a huge IT staff. It is very understandable for this person to be upset with this decision.

  4. “ensuring that each computer gets its periodic system update would be almost overwhelming without a huge IT staff”

    – yeah, I mean it takes HUGE numbers of staff to ensure that the kids click on “OK” when software update asks them to update their system software… wow – I bet they’re quaking over the cost.

    Get real…

  5. Updates can be done at school by the students. There are study halls and time allotted that could be used. A little organization goes a long way. A Mac update although large is no reason to not do other things, after all it is Unix at the core and handles multitasking much better than some OSes.
    : )

  6. Tommo & Left Rear,
    You’re assuming it’s a good idea to ensure security and stability to a bunch of school kids.
    1. Not everyone has internet at home.
    2. You’re assuming that kids will want to spend their own time updating their computers. Kids don’t even do their homework, but they’re going to maintain their computers?
    3. System update is a menial but necessary task. I just used that as an example to illustrate the challenges that may be faced. How much are the students going to be responsbile for, and how much should they be responsible for?

    The IT staff will be overwhelmed if they are spending all their time reinstalling accidentally deleted software and replacing hard drives that crashed because the computer was dropped. How much time will be wasted on servicing computers that have a cracked screen or that had some beverage spilled all over the keyboard?

    Tommo, thanks for completely missing the point of my post. At least Left Rear Tire thought about the problem and offered a solution.

  7. The issue here is not about their decision to use Macs, it’s about whether there will be any benefit to the students if they have their own computer instead of using one at the school. If there is a benefit, is it worth the extra millions of dollars, or should that money be directed elsewhere? Butch is right in saying that the school officials overstepped their authority by going ahead with this plan.

  8. Well, fine, then. Stop the program if they want…but if the first Dell/Gateway/HP/AOpen shows up, sue the pants off the county commission for collusion. The deal with Apple, from all appearances, was made above board; if there are to be computers placed in that school they should be according to the agreement already made, in place and agreed to by both parties.

    Personally, I have a bit of trouble believing that a computer at every desk is actually going to be all that beneficial, but I’d rather see an Apple than some time-eating, money-eating POS from one of the cheapo hacks.

    MDN MW: against. As in, I am against these idiots.

  9. I would sue, too – that’s a lot of money stolen from tax-victims to piss away in the public school system. They should abolish the school system, sell off its assets and use the proceeds to buy EVERYBODY in Cobb county an iBook.

  10. Isn’t that what remote desktop is for? Doesn’t it batch install programs, updates, and system stuff over many computers?
    And what’s this about an overwhelmed IT department? IT departments are PC mentality. If it was a mac based network, the IT department would be one guy that comes in once a week just to make sure things are still running smoothly. I’ve had this discussion with the IT guy at my work, and we both agreed that he would have to stop working full time (40hr week) and come in as needed if the company moved to Mac OS X. Most of his time is spent hopping computers and checking virus definitions.

    Magic word is higher, as in lawsuit is being supported by MS higher powers.

  11. To: King_alvarez and anyone else that wants to know.
    That is how OS X will get updated. This is included with 10.4 Server, but if you want to go with Windows, it will cost you a little extra to get this functionality. And if the IT staff wanted them too, the teachers could do the updating for the k-6 kids since the laptops stay at school, and the 7-12 grades can surely follow directions during home room at the beginning of the day.

    As for kids deleteing apps. Read here:
    You can set for only certain applications to be used for a certain user or group. That means you can completely turn off a program from being used, or allow the user to use but not delete something.

    As for the dropping/break down of computers, the k-6 children usually stay in the same room, and probably wouldn’t be taking their laptops home with them. The reason for the laptop and not a desktop is a desktop takes up space, and a laptop can be used at the child’s desk. The teachers will most likely be the ones carrying the laptops around for the younger k-1 kids, while 2-6 only have to walk a few feet (from their desk to where the laptops are stored, back to their desk). And when was the last time that food was allowed in the classroom. I don’t remember being able to eat or drink at my desk as a kid, which is where these laptops will get the most use if the only use. As for the 7-12, they have a little more responcibility in that they probably take it home, but they are most likely able to do that without causing that much worry about harm coming to the laptop.

    The reason why a laptop is better than buying desktops and making labs, which is basically what this sueing person is saying, is that laptops can be moved around easily and the students can work right at their desks. No need to share resources, computer labs, with other teachers to get certain projects done.

    I could go on and on about what I have seen in a classroom that had put iBooks in the hands of the children. All I can say now is read.

    And for those that want to know I have personally visited this school.

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