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L.A. School District Suspends a Massive iPad Contract

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At the top of the month we posted a report titled "Apple's iPad Dominance in Education is Being Challenged by new Common Core Rules, Chromebooks and Hybrid Devices." The report covered a number of school districts that were opting for iPad alternatives like hybrid notebooks so that their students could meet the needs of the Common Core rules. Today, the L.A Times is reporting that that L.A. Unified, the second largest school system in the U.S. have officially cancelled a one billion dollar contract with Apple for iPads. The Atlantic report that we referred to in our earlier report already noted that 2,100 iPads had been cancelled, so the rumblings were already beginning to occur earlier this month.


According to a new L.A. Times report "schools Supt. John Deasy suspended future use of a contract with Apple on Monday that was to provide iPads to all students in the nation's second-largest school system amid mounting scrutiny of the $1-billion-plus effort.


The suspension comes days after disclosures that the superintendent and his top deputy had especially close ties to executives of Apple, maker of the iPad, and Pearson, the company that is providing the curriculum on the devices. And an internal report that examined the technology effort showed major problems with the process and the implementation.


"Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple Inc.," Deasy wrote in a memo sent to the Board of Education on Monday.


"Not only will this decision enable us to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances, it will also give us time to take into account concerns raised surrounding the [project]," Deasy wrote.


It remains to be seen if Deasy's action will satisfy critics. The teachers union Monday called for an official investigation of the original contracting process — the union and Deasy have clashed before and are now in tense contract negotiations. And a source close to the district said L.A. Unified's inspector general is planning to conduct additional interviews.


Even before Deasy's action Monday, L.A. Unified had decided to try out other devices and other curricula at the high school level. The L.A. Times further noted that under the recently expanded approach, 18,000 laptops are being purchased – which goes back to our original report earlier this month about hybrid devices becoming a threat to the current iPad.


So is Apple completely out of the process now? No. Deasy wrote that he expects Apple and Pearson to be among the bidders in the new process. However, due to this current controversy and threat by the unions to investigate this matter, I highly doubt that Apple's iPad will come out on top going forward.


In other related iPad news today, the StarTribune reports that the St. Paul School District will be rolling out a new iPad initiative this fall that will be the largest ever for a state school system. For more on this development, check out "St. Paul Schools Embrace iPad Era."   


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