LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Unified School District confirmed Tuesday that the FBI seized 20 boxes of documents related to the school district's purchases for its $1.3 billion plan to provide iPads to all of its 650,000 students.
LAUSD Interim Superintendent Ramon Cortines said Tuesday he would suspend any additional purchases made under a $500 million contract signed June 2013 with Apple and Pearson for iPads programmed with Pearson educational software.
A report from the L.A. Unified Inspector General identified flaws in the Apple contract, Cortines said.
The district's iPad program, which never got past a preliminary phase, hit snags shortly after the first roll-out amid claims of poor training and after some students deleted security firewalls allowing them to freely surf the internet. Some critics were also concerned about long-term bonds voters had approved for district infrastructure being issued to pay for rapidly-changing technology, although the district's bond officials said shorter maturities would be paired with iPad expenditures.
The inspector general was asked in August to investigate after questions were raised about a series of emails between former Superintendent John Deasy and executives at Apple and Pearson sent prior to signing of the contract. Deasy resigned in Oct. 16 and Cortines, his predecessor, was appointed interim superintendent.
The district, however, plans to move ahead on two other requests for proposals. The school district is contemplating a new contract with Apple to provide iPads and a contract with another vendor, Arey Jones, to provide Google Chromebook laptops for state testing, district officials said.
The FBI executed a subpoena from a federal grand jury on Monday that asked for every document related to the contract, including the original request for proposal and documents on any other bids from other companies that responded to the RFP. It asked for documents involving companies that did not submit bids, but had contact with the school district, score sheets, documents related to the drafting of the RFP, proposal scoring records and review committee records. The seizure requested every document being reviewed by the inspector general in his investigation.
The subpoena was signed by Patricia A. Donahue, assistant U.S. Attorney in the public corruption and civil rights section of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokesperson, said the agency could not comment on who the bureau is targeting with the investigation.