L.A. Unified to get $6.4 million in settlement over iPad software

“The Los Angeles Unified School District has reached a tentative $6.4-million settlement over curriculum from education software giant Pearson that the school system said its teachers barely used,” Howard Blume reports for The Los Angeles Times. “The pact is the latest fallout from an aborted $1.3-billion plan to provide an iPad to every student, teacher and campus administrator in the nation’s second-largest school district.”

“The Board of Education is expected to vote on the settlement in October. The bidding process that led to the original contract is the subject of an FBI investigation,” Blume reports. “Under that contract, Apple agreed to provide iPads to L.A. Unified while Pearson provided curriculum on the devices as a subcontractor. As a result, the settlement was with Apple, even though the dispute concerned the Pearson product.”

“Under the agreement, Apple will pay the district $4.2 million. Another computer company, Lenovo, also had charged the district for Pearson curriculum. The district won’t have to pay $2.2 million for laptops recently purchased, according to the settlement,” Blume reports. “L.A. Unified bought more than 40,000 iPads with the Pearson curriculum at a cost of $768 apiece. The district used bond funds to make the purchases… Teachers received limited training on the devices. The district later accused Pearson of providing an underwhelming product beset by technical glitches. Consultants concluded that few teachers even used the Pearson software. Pearson has defended the quality of its work, noting that other school systems continue to use its online courses.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully, this is the beginning of end of this complete clusterfsck.

What schools must learn from Los Angeles’ iPad fiasco – May 8, 2015
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. I used to work for Wall Street English, a huge English language training company bought out by Pearson, a few years back. Recently, they rolled out ‘digital books’ as a replacement for the usual paper student manuals. Same story: glitches, freezes. Lost results. It was clear to us that very little QA testing was done before the launch. Many students complained and demanded they get back the paper manuals. Their internal systems are also antiquated, although they are do to be replaced sometime.

    Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised who was at fault here.

  2. It was incredulity dumb to roll it out to a huge school district in one go.
    The way to do it is run a pilot in a few schools, with a lot of technical and educational support, to define the key issues. Then roll out to 5 times more schools and work out the logistics issues on a larger scale.
    Essentially this can’t be dealt with wholesale. Schools don’t have the skill set to manage this by themselves. They need plenty of help and someone to push teachers into using the tech.

  3. My son is assigned school homework on Pearson SuccessNet. The software, even on a Mac or PC, is poorly executed and relies on Flash. 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?

  4. Pearson is a good example of capitalism not always producing the best result. Pearson is focused on profits over education. Apple got excited about a massive iPad order and setting a precedent for iPad in K-12 education, but apparently failed to develop an adequate plan for ensuring the success of the fundamental objective – enhancing the education process and achieving a better overall experience for students and teachers. Apple apparently failed to focus on the user experience in this situation, and that has soured school districts on the value and utility of the iPad.

    1. I don’t know. I lay the blame at bungling School Admins. Is the idea sound? Yes. A tablet to replace a dozen text books and workbooks? A no brainer. Pearson obviously failed with their software, but those running the school district didn’t vet Peasron’s wares, nor did they have suitable planning and training for this radical change. Apple is in business to sell hardware, and L.A. wanted it. It might have been safer for Apple to sell the iPads to Pearson, and let Pearson take full responsibility for making the system work. But that would have undoubtably cost the school district more money than buying direct from Apple. This was the school district’s hubris and obvious lack in comprehending the scope of of their objective. It’s too bad. I guess 40 lb. backpacks will be adorning our kids for the foreseeable future.

      1. It was my impression that the contractor hires sub-contractors. Apple hired Pearson, no surprise then that Apple has to be involved in the fix or settlement process. Didn’t Apple have any other vendors to use other than Pearson?

        1. Have to admit that I don’t know who hired who, or if the school system contracted separately with each. That said, the curricula supplier I think trumps the hardware supplier when it comes to school purchases. There are not many approved sources. That’s why I was thinking that Pearson brought this plan to the school, with Apple as the supplier of the hardware.

  5. Worth noting is the fact that Stephanie Carullo, Apple’s VP of Education Sales, was quietly shown the door several weeks ago. Her mad rush to get Apple into bed with Pearson, a known multiple offender when it comes to failed implementations, was apparently a factor in the decision.

    1. Actually, if you know anything about any of this you would know that Pearson was imposed as a service provider for this contract by LAUSD. Apple, and Carullo’s organization were reluctant to work with Pearson from the start…

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