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Former L.A. schools superintendent: bonds weren't meant for iPads

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William Johnston, who was superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District during the 1970s, is urging officials to stop using bond funds to buy iPads - leading an oversight committee to take up the issue Thursday.  

"I believe the current purchase of iPads with school bonds is illegal," Johnston said in a letter addressed to the chairman of the district's bond oversight committee, Steve English. "New developments and technology will make them obsolete, requiring replacement. School bonds are designed to buy property, build schools, equip schools with lasting equipment." 

The committee has sided with the current administration, recommending the school board use school construction bonds to expand the iPad program. Once fully implemented, it's expected to cost $1.3 billion, most of which will be spent on upgrading wifi at schools.

Johnston asked that the committee explain its thinking. It will take up the issue at it's meeting Thursday.

But in a written response to Johnson earlier this month, English said the iPad purchases are legal because the voter-approved measures said some of the money could be used for technology upgrades.

"Our own review of [the iPad purchase] has led us to conclude that the District's actions to date are legal and are not imprudent," English wrote. "Measure Q bond project list does state that bond funds may be used for computer and communications projects, including, but not limited to 'hardware and software for information-technology applications; undertaken at some or all of the district's schools and associated facilities.' "

In Johnston's letter, he said he's taken the matter to Los Angeles City Counsel. But the city has no oversight over the school board.

Letter to Bond Oversight