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LA school officials acknowlege they ignored computer inventories in latest iPad purchase

Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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Officials with the Los Angeles Unified School district acknowledged at a public meeting Thursday afternoon that they did not consider existing computer inventories when buying the latest round of iPads for schools. 

KPCC reported last week that many schools were scheduled to receive the new tablets to take digital state tests  - even if they already had fleets of laptops, iPads or other devices.

“So the number of carts and iPads they are getting are based on the total number students regardless of existing computer resources?” asked Quynh Nguyen, a member of a school board committee probing the iPad program.

“That is correct,” replied Oscar Lafarga, an administrator for the district. He said the district only took into account how many students would be tested.

As a result, schools like Granada Hills Charter High School - which already has 2,000 computers for its 4,000 students - is slated to receive hundreds of extra iPads.

Administrators said at prior meetings they did not know exactly how many computers are at schools sites because they couldn’t afford to take inventory after the recession.

RELATED: LA school officials in the dark over computer inventories

But the school board asked for an inventory. And district officials responded by sending out a survey to all schools in December.  The results of that survey were released January 27, two days before the latest round of 45,000 iPads was purchased.

The survey was flawed - some schools didn't answer and it only asked school principals to count the number of wired computers, which would exclude thousands of new iPads and laptops on many campuses.

Board member Monica Ratliff asked why this new data wasn’t taken into account.

Ron Chandler, the district's Chief Information Officer, said they didn’t need to because the plan all along was to buy more iPads.

“This was the plan,” Chandler said.

During public comment Thursday, an ongoing outcry over reports of maintenance problems at school campuses also bubbled up.

As KPCC reported Tuesday, a Facebook group called "repairs not iPads" appeared recently, with the stated purpose of documenting "neglected school repairs while construction bond money is diverted to purchase iPads." The group's administrator is unnamed.

The page taps into a frustration by some teachers, principals and parents over the cost of the one-to-one iPad program, which is estimated at over $1 billion, much of which will come from bonds passed by voters to fix schools and build new ones.

"I bet you would have more buy-in for iPads if basic needs were met," Lisa Karahalios, a representative of the teachers union, told the committee.