by Robby Soave, Reason
Los Angeles Unified School District is ending its billion-dollar iPad program, which has drawn widespread criticism for distributing expensive devices to teachers who didn’t know what to do with them and students who kept losing or breaking them.
The costly program was considered a total failure, and it’s little surprise that district officials have finally relented and scaled back. More surprising, however, are revelations that District Superintendent John Deasy may have engaged in some crooked bargaining to arrange the deal in the first place.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Deasy’s previous connections to Apple and Pearson—the companies contracted to supply the iPads and instructional materials for them, respectively—amount to a conflict of interest. In hindsight, the bidding process that Apple and Pearson won to score the contracts seems biased in those companies’ favor, The LA Times notes:
Last week, a draft report of a district technology committee, obtained by The Times, was strongly critical of the bidding process.
Among the findings was that the initial rules for winning the contract appeared to be tailored to the products of the eventual winners — Apple and Pearson — rather than to demonstrated district needs. The report found that key changes to the bidding rules were made after most of the competition had been eliminated under the original specifications.
In addition, the report said that past comments or associations with vendors, including Deasy, created an appearance of…….