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Emails prompt LA schools' inspector general to reopen iPad probe

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The inspector general of the Los Angeles Unified School Distict is reopening an investigation into the purchase of iPads and Pearson software based on findings in a KPCC investigation into communication between district officials and those companies nearly a year ahead of a public bid.

Ken Bramlett, the Inspector General for L.A. Unified, led an investigation into the district’s competitive bid earlier this year, but told KPCC Wednesday afternoon the early emails were not part of his office’s initial probe.

After reviewing more than 1,000 internal emails over several days, KPCC found Superintendent John Deasy and his staff communicated closely with executives at Pearson about purchasing learning  software under development for the iPad.

The emails show the officials detailed aspects of a one-to-one student technology program, down to the specifics of tech support and teacher training.  A year later, the requirements for proposals resembled the package Pearson was selling.

KPCC aired and published stories on those emails Friday. On Monday, Superintendent John Deasy announced he was canceling the contract with Apple and Pearson and issuing a new request for proposals for the one-to-one technology project. 

L.A. Unified's technology expansion, including upgrading wifi at schools, is poised to be the largest in the country with a price tag of nearly $1.3 billion.  

In a memo, Deasy said he expects the bidders will include Apple and Pearson, the largest publishing company in the world.