LOS ANGELES (AP) — Faced with criticism about the planning and rollout of a $1 billion effort by the Los Angeles Unified School District to provide iPads to all students, Superintendent John Deasy on Tuesday suspended future use of a contract with Apple Inc.
The move follows disclosures that Deasy and his top deputy had close contact with executives at Apple, which makes the iPad, and Pearson Education, the company providing the curriculum on the tablets, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
In addition, an internal district report found that the implementation of the iPad plan was beset by a flawed bidding process.
Deasy announced Tuesday that he ordered the district to request new proposals for "personal computing devices" for future phases of the technology program.
However, Deasy said he expected Apple and Pearson Education to participate in the proposal process.
"We remain committed to providing students devices that support their access to a world of learning and discovery so they are better prepared to graduate college and career ready," Deasy said in a statement.
"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 successes and concerns learned in the initial phases of the (project)," he said.
Under the contract approved last year, Apple had been expected to provide iPads, with Pearson as the subcontractor. School board members were told that the $30 million contract likely would expand to about $500 million over the next year or so, the Times reported. An additional $500 million would be used to improve Internet access and other school infrastructure issues.
The districtwide iPad rollout began last fall at 47 schools.
The purchases were being approved in phases, which gave Deasy the option of suspending the contract and restarting.
The district report found, among other things, that the initial rules for winning the contract appeared to be tailored to the products of the eventual winners — Apple and Pearson — rather than to district needs. It said key changes to the bidding rules came after most of the competition had been eliminated.
The report also found that past comments or associations with vendors, including Deasy, created an appearance of conflict even if no ethics rules were violated.
Deasy defended his staff and the original process but said he had not read the draft report because he did not receive a copy.