LAUSD's iPad Saga Has Just Begun

It was controversial?

- John Deasy

At the beginning of August, Superintendent Deasy was mocking opponents of his plan “to provide an iPad to every Los Angeles student, teacher and school administrator.” Yesterday he cancelled the project as the controversy grew over mounting evidence of improprieties in the bidding process. This step should serve as the beginning of a process to make sure that the mistakes that haunted this project from the beginning are never repeated.

Unfortunately, the Board of Education’s record of overseeing the superintendent does not inspire confidence. Board member Tamar Galatzan served on the committee which drafted a report that concluded the iPad program “was beset by inadequate planning, a lack of transparency and a flawed bidding process” and, therefore, had advance access to the information that was being collected. Instead of seeing this as a reason to question the ability of the superintendent to run the district, she focused her attention on trying to get rid of his critics. For example, she repeatedly voted to block the reappointment of Stuart Magruder to the bond oversight committee because she thought that “the committee has done too little oversight on construction projects and too much on technology.” Of course this line of reasoning ignored the fact that it was Deasy who had decided to pay for consumer items and software with bond funds that were sold to the voters as money needed for construction.

A program costing over $1 billion should not have been implemented in a district that has been haunted by shortened school years, closed libraries, unstaffed nurses offices, increased class sizes, teacher layoffs and furlough days. The fact that it was implemented so poorly that it must be restarted is absolutely unconscionable. The students, parents, teachers and taxpayers of the district are owed answers to their questions, including the following:

For too long the board has neglected its duty to oversee the actions of the superintendent. Getting to the bottom of these questions would be a good first step in setting this right.