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LA school board ousts iPad critic from oversight committee

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The Los Angeles Unified school board voted Tuesday against keeping an outspoken opponent to the district's iPad program on a committee overseeing how it spends its voter-approved school bonds, the technology program's main source of funding.

Stuart Magruder, an architect, had unsuccessfully attempted to halt the iPad program's growth last fall after the district purchased 31,000 tablets for its pilot. 

Magruder argued the district should not tap the into $19.5 billion pool of  bonds to pay for the program, saying voters approved the money to fix crumbling schools and alleviate overcrowding, not to buy each student a tablet. 

"The district is already in very dangerous territory with the public’s trust," Magruder said last December. He could not be reached for immediate comment regarding the board's decision.

The decision may prove difficult for the school board.

Rules governing the committee state: "The Board shall appoint one member nominated by the American Institute of Architects, Los Angeles Chapter." That suggests it is the institute, not the board, which ultimately holds nominating power. Magruder was the representative selected by the institute.

Magruder was up for reappointment at last week's board meeting. The motion was tabled.

During the brief public portion of Tuesday's mostly closed meeting, board member Tamar Galatzan, a fierce supporter of the Superintendent's iPad program, motioned to have Magruder's name removed from consideration for reappointment.

The oversight committee's staff is investigating whether the board overstepped its authority.

The school board has butted heads with the bond oversight committee several times during the course of the iPad program. The tension made headlines when the school board ignored the committee's recommendation to buy fewer iPads for testing. 

During his tenure, Magruder also questioned why iPads were being purchased before most schools had the wifi capability to support hundreds of new devices. 

“As time has gone by, Magruder's questioning has become even more valid as we’ve found out more about the iPad rollout and review process," Scott Folsom, a fellow committee member, said Tuesday.

The school board came under fire earlier this year when Board President Richard Vladovic disbanded another committee investigating the iPad purchases. 

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated the board took the vote in closed session. In fact, members voted during the open session portion of a mostly closed meeting.