LA Schools Ditch iPad Contract Amid Controversy

Los Angeles schools Superintendent John Deasy has cancelled a year-old contract with Apple to put iPads in student's hands following news that he, along with former Deputy Superintendent Jamie Aquino, had inappropriately close ties to the company. Documents showed the two may have been talking with Apple executives a couple years in advance, and that the bidding process may have been skewed in Apple's favor.

LA School District cancels contract for iPads in classroomsLA School District cancels contract for iPads in classrooms

A report from the school district's technology committee didn't accuse the two of wrong doing, but did say it appeared as if the contract with Apple had been tailored to the company's products instead of the needs of the schools, according to the LA Times. The report also said their association with Apple and educational book publisher Pearson created the appearance of ethics violations even if none took place.

Mr. Deasy said there isn't any reason to question his integrity or his staff, but felt that canceling Apple's contract was in the best interest of the district. He added that his interaction with Apple was related to the test program. "We did work closely on this pilot," he said.

This isn't the first time questions about giving iPads to students and teachers in the district has been questioned. The pilot program in 47 schools last year has been criticized for a poor implementation that made it easy for students to remove security filters, and left the schools with a weak curriculum.

After looking at the issues surrounding the iPad test program, The Mac Observer's John Martellaro said, "I got the feeling that not a lot of thought was put into matching the capabilities of the iPad with the curriculum goals," which is in line with the technology committee's findings.

Apple's future in the LA school district may not look bright, but the company isn't completely out of the game. The district planned to roll out its technology for students in phases, which means Apple can submit a proposal along with every other company hoping to land a contract.

The district plans to run test programs in some schools to try out devices from several companies and may decide to use products from multiple vendors based on student and teacher needs. 18,000 laptops will be added to the district's tech lineup, and Mr. Deasy said he expects Apple will be one of the bidders.

Just how well that plays out for Apple remains to be seen, especially since any deal the school district may strike with the company will no doubt be subject to even more scrutiny.