U.S. SEC probes L.A. Unified School District’s iPad debacle

“The federal Securities and Exchange Commission recently opened an informal inquiry into whether Los Angeles school officials complied with legal guidelines in the use of bond funds for the now-abandoned $1.3-billion iPads-for-all project,” Howard Blume reports for The Los Angeles Times.

“In particular, the agency was concerned with whether the L.A. Unified School District properly disclosed to investors and others how the bonds would be used, according to documents provided to The Times,” Blume reports. “District officials said they were optimistic that they had addressed the SEC concerns.”

“The news of the SEC inquiry came the same week that L.A. Unified officials demanded a refund from computer giant Apple over curriculum supplied on the devices by Pearson, which sells education services and materials worldwide,” Blume reports. “Problems plagued the fall 2013 rollout of the iPad project and questions later arose about whether Apple or Pearson had an unfair advantage in the bidding process. An ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI is looking into that matter. Current and former district officials have denied any wrongdoing.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: FUBAR.

Related articles:
Los Angeles schools seeking refund over botched iPad plan – April 16, 2015
U.S. FBI seizes L.A. Unified School District iPad documents; 20 boxes carted away in surprise visit – December 2, 2014
Beleaguered L.A. schools superintendent to resign in wake of iPad fiasco – October 16, 2014
Los Angeles teachers union calls for investigation of school super Deasy’s ties to Apple, Pearson execs – August 26, 2014
L.A. Unified School District suspends Apple iPad contract – August 26, 2014
L.A. Unified School District repossesses students’ iPads as $1-billion plan hits hurdles – October 1, 2013


    1. Nothing about the iPads themselves is in contention, despite all the DrAMa. So far, the only thing LAUSD want from Apple is refunds for non-functional iPads. The huge bone of contention is the ineffective and incomplete crap software provided (or what was supposed to be provided) by Pearson. If Pearson had their act together, none of this would have been a problem. Their incompetence and unprofessionalism is the heart of the problem. I have to wonder if Apple was at all involved in the choice of Pearson.

      Nonetheless, the bidding process is under FBI investigation, as I elaborate below…

      1. My son is assigned school homework on Pearson SuccessNet. The software is poorly executed and relies on Flash so it won’t work with iPads. I don’t understand how Pearson gets all these contracts with school systems. Is it lack of competition? Any potential competitor with some skilled software and interface design talent could do much better. A better question: What was Apple doing teaming up with these chumps?

        1. I don’t understand the semantics I keep reading about this arrangement. Did Apple actually associate themselves with Pearson in this contract? Or was it all set up by LAUSD? If Apple did associate with Pearson, major WHOOPS! That wouldn’t bode well.

          1. I don’t believe Apple had much to do with the contract except to be the supplier of iPads. I think Pearson orchestrated the deal, then fell flat on its face with terrible execution.

      2. My granddaughter DID get an iPad nonetheless from the LAUSD school she was at but I never saw they did much with it. Sad, so much potential and so miserably poor software execution from Pearson. When you are part of something with a high profile company like Apple I should think you’d want to put your best foot forward or suffer a PR death a thousand times. Yeah I’m not sure how involved Apple was with the Pearson debacle either.

          1. No doubt. 🙂 Yeah there are few excuses for the pickle the LAUSD got themselves in – they are squarely to blame for not properly supervising and vetting the software ahead of time. They did the same thing working with a software vendor with their critical MiSis school system software. Boy did I hear a lot of complaints from school employees about that! It seems they were doing most of the added features and bug fixes AFTER having installed it and couldn’t go back.

            1. They clearly needed an adviser knowledgable about computer systems and their typical problems, someone they would listen to. I’m trained in this stuff, so it’s rather inevitable to me considering their lack of planning, vetting and verification. They apparently either didn’t know better or ignored those who did, such as APPLE. If only they’d worked more closely with Apple, who have done this sort of thing many times before.

    The news of the SEC inquiry came the same week that L.A. Unified officials demanded a refund from computer giant Apple over curriculum supplied on the devices by Pearson.

    The only ‘demand’ is refunds for non-functioning iPads. Lawsuits against Apple and Pearson are being ‘considered’ at this point.

    Also of note: The FBI is investigating the LAUSD iPad program for impropriety. From last December 8th:

    LAUSD will seek outside legal advice regarding FBI probe of iPads

    Last week, federal agents took 20 boxes of documents related to the district’s $1.3-billion effort to provide computers to every student, teacher and campus administrator. The central contract to provide the devices was awarded in June 2013 by Apple, in partnership with Pearson, which provided the curriculum.

    Problems with the iPad project played a role in the resignation of Supt. John Deasy, who left under pressure in October. Deasy has denied any wrongdoing….

  2. The report from the Federal review “… criticizes the scheme for unclear goals,… lack of teacher training,… poor support for lesson-planning….

    There, in a nutshell, is the problem with public education today. I know because I’ve been there, I’ve seen it at work, and I’ve felt the consequences for teachers and students. I’m glad to be no longer a part of it.

  3. The LAUSD problem is only in the news because it’s LAUSD/Apple, and because of the scale. These same problems occur at many other school districts across the nation. It’s not simply iPads, it’s companies which think that they can scam/game the system. Partly, because they can, without recourse. School districts are over burdened, have to constantly seek outside counsel. It’s difficult to do anything useful. I wouldn’t say it’s inept management, but it’s likely. But more than likely, it’s a combination of management and a system which makes things inefficient. Try rolling out common core, and you will see this happen over and over…

    Imagine this, school books are so expensive that they can only buy new books, every 7 years. Sometimes the curriculum they purchase is EOL before they get it, and then they are stuck with old tech or books for that time.

    Of course someone is going to get into trouble, but rarely is it going to be a vendor, and frankly they are giddy to wash rinse and repeat.

    Just an observation.

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