Los Angeles Schools Settle iPad Software Dispute

The $6.4 million software settlement is the first part of a legal battle involving the cancellation of a $1.3 billion plan to buy iPads for every student.

L.A. schools iPad software dispute

The Los Angeles Unified School District has reached a $6.4 million settlement with education software vendor Pearson, 10 months after the district cancelled a $1.3 billion contract that would have bought Apple iPads for every student, teacher and administrator in the district.

The settlement, reported Sept. 25 in the Los Angeles Times, involves allegedly problematic software that was part of the original iPad purchase initiative, which was cancelled in December 2014 after questions were raised about the bidding process that led to the massive deal. The Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to investigate that original contract, which included Pearson as a subcontractor providing curriculum software.

The tentative settlement is expected to be approved by the school district this month, the article reported. Apple will pay $4.2 million to the district since Pearson was a subcontractor, the report continued.

"That amount of money doesn't make up for the damage to the district's reputation or compensate for the amount of time lost by students and educators in this misbegotten project," Scott Folsom, a member of the independent committee that oversees school modernization and construction bonds, told the Times.

The district had purchased more than 40,000 iPads with the Pearson curriculum at $768 each, for a total of $30.7 million, the article reported. Pearson's software included math and English curriculum, but the software allegedly had problems. "The district later accused Pearson of providing an underwhelming product beset by technical glitches," the Times reported. "Consultants concluded that few teachers even used the Pearson software."

The original $1.3 billion contract that would have provided iPads in the district was approved in June 2013, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Last December, a federal grand jury subpoenaed documents from the school district as part of an investigation into the process that led to the deal.

The project began with high hopes and plenty of headlines due to its large $1.3 billion price tag and its promise to outfit each of the district's 640,000 students with one of the devices to assist in their learning and education.

The first phase of the project began in 2013 when 31,000 students in the district's 1,124 K-12 schools were slated to receive their iPads. The rest of the district's students were to have received their devices by the end of the 2014 school year. The idea was that students would no longer have to share a limited number of devices available in the schools, which would help them use technology as often as needed for their work. The program was also envisioned as a way to give students experience with technology to help them get jobs and further their education.

The district had received some 12 proposals from vendors when it was originally deciding on the contract, according to reports.