L.A.’s plan to give students iPads isn’t happening anytime soon

Another major blow to a major iPad rollout plan.


Allen Weiner


Published Dec 3, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 1:55 am CDT

Thanks to an FBI probe and the questionable activities of school administrators, Los Angeles County schools will not be as technologically empowered as they expected anytime soon.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a federal grand jury has subpoenaed 20 boxes of records relating to the 2013 bidding process for a $1.3 billion contract to purchase iPads and educational software for students.

School district superintendent Ramon C. Cortines posted a confusing message on Facebook, tying the suspension of the troubled iPad project to the district’s efforts to meet Common Core requirements. Cortines explains that in order to continue Common Core work, additional iPads would be purchased “under a different contract with Apple” as well as Chromebooks from another vendor.

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A report in edSurge suggests that the Chromebooks will be provided by several vendors, including Samsung, Acer, and Dell, with each Chromebook costing between $100 and $200 less than the iPads.

The plan to offer iPads to L.A. public school students has been troubled from its inception. In Aug. 2013, allegations surfaced about former superintendent John Deasy and other board members’ ties to Apple and software provider Pearson.  Deasy resigned in October, at which time the distribution of iPads to L.A.’s 47 public schools ground to a halt. The school district cited changes in technology as the cause for the disruption.

Further complicating matters, students who received iPads easily hacked the security controls, allowing them to freely access social media services and other prohibited websites. The fatal flaw in the school district’s plan was to allow students to take their devices home. At the time, students complained that in their locked-down state, the iPads were not very fun.

Cortines did not address the fact that iPads and Chromebooks are not technically harmonious, a discrepancy that could confound nearly all of the schools’ tech investments. The two devices work on different operating systems, which could cause nightmares for the district’s IT department. The wasted technology cost would be immeasurable.

Meanwhile, the court of public opinion—no doubt tired of the county’s prolonged mishandling of its experiment—remained skeptical and cynical.

Photo via Brad Flickinger/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Jason Reed 

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*First Published: Dec 3, 2014, 6:41 pm CST