LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Chino Hills lawmaker Tuesday called upon Los Angeles County prosecutors to investigate a controversial bidding process used to bring iPad tablets to students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
Assemblyman Curt Hagman (R-Chino Hills) wants District Attorney Jackie Lacey to help “ensure complete transparency in a process that puts $1 billion of voter taxes at risk,” according to a statement.
Last month, Superintendent John Deasy sent a letter to the Board of Education that effectively ended the district’s contract with Apple, The Los Angeles Times reported.
That move came days before an audit conducted by the LAUSD’s Inspector General found that more than $2 million worth of computers – mostly iPads – could not be accounted for by the 641,000-student district.
“These iPads are being purchased with voter-approved bond money and yet there has been very little transparency or oversight throughout the process,” Hagman said. “Not only is the use of bond funds for personal use iPads highly inappropriate, but it also requires a higher level of accountability.”
According to the LA Times article in August, both former Deputy Superintendent Jaime Aquino and Deasy had close ties to Apple and Pearson Education Corp., which eventually won the bid to provide iPads and curriculum for the project.
Hagman said he believes an email sent to Pearson executives by Aquino shows a clear attempt to tilt the bidding process in Pearson’s favor.
“It is very alarming that there appears to have been manipulation in the bidding process that did not consider the actual needs of the district, and further investigation to discover the legality of the process is essential,” he said.
Officials with United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) also issued calls for an investigation following the LA Times report.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office conducted a review of the process in April, but declined to file criminal charges related to the deal.