Educator who orchestrated $1 billion iPad deal could face detention

iPads in classroom

Los Angeles teachers union president Alex Caputo-Pearl has called for an investigation into Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent John Deasy’s relationship with Apple, which led to the announcement that the school system had blown its entire $1 billion tech budget on giving an iPad to every student last year.

Although the iPad deal was later put on hold, the L.A. Board of Education is being pressured by Caputo-Pearl to investigate why Deasy and his then-chief deputy, Jaime Aquino, were apparently discussing the deal with Apple and education publisher Pearson up to two years before the official bidding process was finished and contracts were approved.

This conversation — reportedly supported by findings from an internal school district report — would suggest an element of unfairness in the bidding process, and that Deasy was putting his relationship with the two companies ahead of his duty to parents and the public.

The iPad deal, which looked to be a massive educational partnership for Apple, was criticized at the time for security concerns as well as a perceived one-size-fits-all approach to computers that didn’t sit well with everyone. LAUSD board member Monica Ratcliff was quoted as saying, “Why would we treat all our students — whether they are a first-grader or a high school freshman — as if they all had the same technology needs? They don’t…. To have a one-device-fits-all approach does not make sense.”

Update: Following criticism, superintendent John Deasy has cancelled the iPad contract.

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About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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