Deasy puts Apple deal on hold, starts new bidding process

Deasy cancels ipad contract*UPDATED

LA Unified Superintendent John Deasy told members of the school board yesterday that he is halting the district’s contract with Apple, Inc., effectively ending his grand plan to put an iPad in the hands of every district student.

Following the disclosure of emails that suggest he and aides had tailored the bid process to favor Apple and the software maker, Pearson, when the district was seeking proposals for digital devices, Deasy said the district would reopen the bidding to take advantage of a changing marketplace and student needs.

In his letter to board members, who are meeting today, Deasy said “Moving forward, we will no longer utilize our current contract with Apple Inc.” He explained the decision in adding, “Not only will this decision enable us to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances, it will also give us time to take into account concerns raised surrounding the CCTP and receive new information from the California Department of Education regarding assessments.”

CCTP stands for Common Core Technology Project, the district’s over-arching plan to supply and distribute digital devices to students. A committee headed by board member Monica Ratliff was appointed last year to oversee its implementation. It was after her draft report leaked was to media outlets last week that emails were disclosed, showing that Deasy and his deputy at the time, Jaime Aquino, exchanged ideas that appeared to some that the district was rigging the process to favor Apple and Pearson.

The original plan was for the devices to be rolled out in phases as part of a $1 billion spend. By his action yesterday, it will go no further than iPads delivered to 52 schools and laptops to 18,000 students under the existing contract, he told the members.

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Morning Read: iPads coverage here, there, everywhere

L.A. Unified halts contract for iPads
L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy suspended future use of a contract with Apple on Monday that was to provide iPads to all students in the nation’s second-largest school system amid mounting scrutiny of the $1-billion-plus effort. LA Times

Deasy abruptly cancels controversial iPad contract
Faced with mounting questions about the propriety of the district’s handling of an effort to provide iPads to all of its students, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy abruptly canceled the $1 billion program Monday. San Fernando Valley News

LAUSD Superintendent Deasy cancels $1 billion iPad program
Faced with mounting questions about the propriety of the district’s handling of an effort to provide iPads to all of its students, Los Angeles Unified School District John Deasy on Monday abruptly canceled the $1 billion program. LA Daily News

LA schools cancel iPad contracts after KPCC publishes internal emails
The school district announced Monday it will cancel the contract with Apple and Pearson and open its one-to-one technology project to new bids. KPCC

L.A. schools chief halts massive iPad contract amid questions
John Deasy, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified school system, abruptly suspended the district’s contract to provide iPads to students, amid questions about the fairness of the process through which the massive project was awarded to Apple. EdWeek

Breaking News: Deasy says he’s cancelling iPad program

Los Angeles Times logoVia Los Angeles Times | By Howard Blume

Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy canceled the $1-billion program to provide all students with an iPad after public records showed he and his top deputy had developed a relationship with the vendors two years prior to the bidding.

Recently released emails showed that Deasy and his then-deputy, Jaime Aquino, began meeting and corresponding with top Apple and Pearson executives and discussing the effort to give all students, teachers and administrators an iPad.

The superintendent sent the Board of Education a letter Monday informing members of his decision. The superintendent was coming under mounting criticism over the emails and an internal report obtained by The Times last week that showed a flawed process and a lack of transparency, among other things.

Read the story here.

In a statement, the teachers union, UTLA said:

“John Deasy needs to publicly explain his role in awarding the iPad contract to Apple and the curriculum contract to Pearson.  Deasy reportedly informed the school board that he is canceling the program that is crumbling around him.  Numerous media reports have questioned how Deasy led the District to award these contracts as part of a billion dollar LAUSD technology program.

“The superintendent does not get to just say, “never mind’ after all the problems the iPad rollout caused this district.  Students, parents, and educators have a right to know what happened.  UTLA will be at the school board meeting on Tuesday demanding some answers.”

Computer problems spur a student walkout at Jefferson High

Jefferson High School Walk outs LAUSD

Student at Jefferson High School, staging a walk out

Continuing problems with LAUSD’s  new MiSiS computer system prompted nearly 250 Jefferson High School students to walk out of class today in protest over scheduling conflicts.

The students, mostly juniors and seniors, said their schedules were wrong and they have not been assigned the honor or AP classes they need for their college portfolio. They blamed the student data management system for the errors.

MiSiS, or My Integrated Student Information System, is designed to track every aspect of a student’s academic career by integrating a variety of existing computer programs. But ever since its roll out at the start of the school year, the program has been riddled with problems, including losing student data and scheduling errors, creating chaos across school campuses.

Senior Daniela Echavarria told LA School Report that she has been complaining to school administrators ever since she noticed that she was missing three classes.

“At first it was a really big mess, I had a bunch of ninth grade classes,” she said. “I didn’t even have an English class.”

She also said many students were missing electives and were scheduled for classes that they had already taken. Others, she said, had been assigned two classes at the same time.

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iPad report shared only with LAUSD officials in secrecy

iPad Report LAUSDA draft report on LA Unified’s handling of the controversial iPad contract that was leaked to media outlets last week was made available to board members and district administrators only if they agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement, barring them from sharing the report with anyone.

While some signed, others, including Superintendent John Deasy, did not, leading one board member to raise questions about the legality of such a demand. Deasy said today he has still not been given a copy of the draft report.

The request for non-disclosure agreements came from board member Monica Ratliff, chair of the Common Core Technology Project Committee and author of the report, who has led the 10-month long effort to evaluate the program and recommend changes.

The draft report was supposed to remain confidential while participants provided feedback. The report was believed to have been given only to members of Ratliff’s committee, a group that included board member Tamar Galatzan; Quynh Nguyen, a member of the LA Unified Bond Oversight Committee; Ron Chandler, the district’s chief information officer; and Gerardo Loera, executive director of curriculum instruction.

Galatzan, a deputy city attorney, had assigned a staffer to represent her on the committee. She told LA School Report today she declined to sign the non-disclosure and, thus, did not receive a copy of the draft from Ratliff, who is also a lawyer.

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LAUSD officials and Apple had a relationship before iPad contract

Logo_LATimesVia LA Times | by Howard Blume

Senior Los Angeles school district officials, including Supt. John Deasy, had a close working relationship with Apple and Pearson executives before these companies won the key contract for a $1-billion effort to provide computers to every student in the nation’s second-largest school system, records released by the L.A. school district show.

The first deal, approved in June 2013 by the Board of Education, was intended as the initial step in a speedy districtwide expansion. Under it, all students, teachers and principals were to receive iPads from Apple that would be loaded with curriculum developed by Pearson. A year later, after pressure from critics and problems with the roll out, the timetable for the project was extended; other curricula and other devices also are being tried out at schools.

Read the full story here

Morning Read: Mistakes were made in LAUSD iPad plan

‘There were mistakes’ in $1 billion iPad plan, says school board member
Los Angeles Unified’s aborted plans to buy iPads and educational software from one of the nation’s leading textbook suppliers were the focus of a draft report created by a school board committee, according to news wire reports. LA Daily News

No easy answers on “career readiness”
The “career” piece of “college and career readiness” continues to challenge the state advisory committee that is charged with reworking the primary measure of school effectiveness in California. Edsource

Feds expand student meal program
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, or so the saying goes, but don’t try telling that to the tens of thousands of students across the state and nation who can now eat both breakfast and the midday meal for free – regardless of income. S&I Cabinet Report

Southern California’s team approach to preventing school killing sprees
More than a decade of preparation and planning to prevent killing sprees in U.S. schools appears to have paid off again, this time in South Pasadena where police arrested two teenagers last week. LA Daily News

Burned out teachers, too, deserve day in court
Opinion: My friend is being fired from her teaching job. As sad and sympathetic as I am for my friend, I can’t say that I am surprised. I’ve known this teacher for several years, and I’ve seen the burnout coming for the entire time of our friendship. Edsource

LAUSD, Teachers union talking AM/FM on new contract

LAUSD and Teachers Union argue over contractAs a further indication of how far off a labor agreement is between LA Unified and the teachers union, UTLA, the two sides met yesterday and each focused on an entirely different matter — the district, salaries; the union, the problematic student data base system, MiSiS.

In a statement released by UTLA shortly after the failed bargaining session — just the third since Alex Caputo-Pearl won the UTLA presidency — the union said the meeting “was devoted entirely to the MiSiS Crisis, because it is taking such a toll on students, parents and educators.”

While a district press release, expressed frustration about not making any headway on teacher salaries.

“Teachers deserve more money, and LAUSD wants to see that they get it now,” Vivian Ekchian, the District’s chief negotiator said in the statement.

The district has proposed giving teachers a three-year deal with raises of 2 percent over the first two years and a 2.5 percent increase in the third year, with raises conditional on the financial state of the district.

But without improving the district’s most recent offer, which UTLA has called a “non-starter,” the union says there wasn’t much to discuss.

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Education secretary eases up on teacher performance standards

NYT logoVia NY Times | by Motoko Rich

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced on Thursday that states could delay the use of test results in teacher-performance ratings by another year, an acknowledgment, in effect, of the enormous pressures mounting on the nation’s teachers because of new academic standards and more rigorous standardized testing.

Using language that evoked some of his fiercest critics, Mr. Duncan wrote in a blog post, “I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools,” and he added that teachers needed time to adapt to new standards and tests that emphasize more than simply filling in bubbled answers to multiple-choice questions.

Read full story here

Morning Read: New report targets LAUSD’s iPad problems

LAUSD’s $1-billion iPad effort beset by problems, report finds
The groundbreaking effort to provide an iPad to every Los Angeles student, teacher and school administrator was beset by inadequate planning, a lack of transparency and a flawed bidding process. LA Times

Democrats reject GOP attempts to lift school reserves cap
Democrats in the California Senate on Thursday rejected a Republican effort to overturn a state budget provision that caps the amount of money school districts can hold in reserve. OC Register

State seeks schools lacking Internet capacity
State officials are looking to county offices of education to help them identify schools still in need of enough Internet capacity to be able to administer standardized, online testing next spring. S&I Cabinet Report

‘Straight outta Compton’ and into Princeton’
Op-Ed: Did you hear about the Compton student who graduated from high school at the top of his class last May and starts school this fall at Princeton with a full scholarship? LA Times

The voter turnout conundrum in L.A.
Editorial: Last week, turnout was an abysmal 9.5% for a Los Angeles Unified School Board special election. But dangling a cash prize over the polls is a cynical and superficial pseudo-solution that fails to address the deeper reasons why people don’t vote. LA Times

After Ferguson, LAUSD giving schools tools to discuss conflict

LAUSDlogoWith tensions from Ferguson, Mo. stirring yet another national debate on race relations, LA Unified is distributing an informational packet, “Engaging Students in Peaceful Dialogues about Conflict and Bias,” with a goal of helping solicit questions or concerns from students in “a neutral, safe and respectful space for constructive dialogue.”

The packet includes suggested activities for students in elementary, middle and high school.

“We encourage youth to consider issues much larger than themselves in order to learn and grow. In this instance, we want to allow our students to reflect, discuss and debate with the guidance of adults at school,” Superintendent John Deasy said in a statement from the district.

The material, developed by the District’s Human Relations, Diversity and Equity team, was designed to help teachers facilitate student dialogue and lead lessons on conflict resolution.


Deasy planning to hire his own liaison for MiSiS project


Superintendent John Deasy

As LA Unified teachers continue their complaints about the district’s new student data management program, MiSiS, Superintendent John Deasy said today he plans to hire an independent liaison to  keep him informed of corrective actions.

“This is not my area of expertise so I have to be sure, when I think something is not optimal, that I have my own person working on this to tell me if we are doing this smartly,” Deasy told LA School Report. “I want a third party who is knowledgeable about changing student informations systems, to give insight into are we making enough changes, are we making our changes correctly.”

Deasy said the person he will hire — within a week or so — will report directly to him and will not require board approval. He also said he intends to meet next week with a new court-appointed monitor charged with overseeing the development of a district-wide student tracking system. The previous person serving in that role died.

Since 2012, the person directly in charge of MiSiS is Bria Jones, according to Bria Jones. On her LinkedIn profile, she identifies herself as head of a small Arizona company hired by the district as “IT Project Director.” She claims she “Provide[s] day-to-day project direction and management of the MiSiS team.”

How she came to the district as the only candidate for the job was among questions that board member Tamar Galatzan included last week in a written request to Ken Bramlett, the district’s Inspector General, seeking an examination of the MiSiS program.

Efforts to reach Jones through the district and her LinkedIn account drew no response.

In an eight-minute telephone interview today about Jones’s role in the MiSiS launch and subsequent problems, Chief Information Officer Ron Chandler told LA School Report that “there are several project managers on the project…her role is to oversee different parts of the development of specifications and code development.”

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NEA’s president says common core testing could “harm kids”

Edsource logoVia EdSource | by John Fensterwald

In the midst of her first swing through California, the incoming president of the National Education Association praised the Common Core State Standards and California’s measured approach in implementing them while warning that the nation’s largest teachers union would fight efforts to use the new tests for the standards in ways that “harm kids” and punish schools and teachers.

A former elementary school teacher and Utah Teacher of the Year, Lily Eskelsen García, 59, has scheduled events with teachers and the news media today in Los Angeles and the Bay Area later in the week. She takes charge of the 3-million-member union next month.

Read the full story here

LA Unified names Ruth Perez as successor to Aquino

Ruth Perez LAUSD

Dr. Ruth Perez

Eight months after Jaime Aquino’s departure as LA Unified’s Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, the district has a candidate to fill the seat.

Superintendent John Deasy announced today he would recommend Ruth Pérez, former superintendent of the Norwalk-La Mirada school district, whose hiring is scheduled to come before the board for approval at its next meeting, on Aug. 26.

 “Dr. Pérez’s track record of success with students who are growing up in poverty, and youth who, like her, didn’t speak English when they started school, equips her to lead instruction for LAUSD,” Deasy said in a statement.  “Focused on high academic achievement for all students, she excels with diverse enrollments.”

A native of Puerto Rico, Perez began her career in Kissimmee, Fla., teaching English literature and English as a second language.

After moving into administration, she became an area superintendent in the Orange County public schools in Orlando.

Later, as the chief academic officer for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools in North Carolina, she implemented initiatives such as intensive reading programs for students in Kindergarten through the third grade; extensive training for teachers instructing English learners and professional development strategies to teach children of poverty. She also expanded after-school programs to middle school students and reduced suspensions.

During her five years as superintendent at Norwalk-La Mirada, the overall graduation rate increased to 94 percent from 76.5 percent. Performance on state standardized tests also rose—as did the Academic Performance Index (API) score, which increased 54 points.

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Morning Read: LAUSD teachers censure student tracking program

L.A. Unified teachers decry new student tracking system
Los Angeles Unified spent about $112 million on an online student tracking program a decade ago but dumped it two years ago in favor of another one that promised a streamlined way to manage enrollment, attendance and grades for the nation’s second-largest school district. LA Times

Moving past zero tolerance in L.A. schools
Editorial: The Los Angeles Unified School District this week took a welcome step away from a longstanding disciplinary system in which police issued citations to students ages 13 to 17 who committed minor offenses, a system that effectively criminalizes what is often merely coming-of-age behavior while emphasizing punishment over education. LA Times

Gov. Jerry Brown should spell out how he’d fund school construction
Commentary: California governors have enormous power to shove around legislatures. And Gov. Jerry Brown has learned how to use it without working up a sweat. LA Times

L.A. County questions LAUSD spending on poor children
Los Angeles Unified officials will have to explain how they spent $700 million to help needy children last year, before county education officials approve a proposed three-year plan for additional state revenue. LA Daily News

Summer ends before Labor Day for many kids
Historically, Labor Day has had a bittersweet quality – marking the end of a months-long summer break for students, and relief for parents who are able to finally send their children back to school and return to their regular routines. But that historical pattern no longer exists in California. EdSource

Thousands of CA students don’t make it to the 9th grade

KPCC logoVia KPCC | by Sarah Butrymowicz

Devon Sanford’s mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer when he was in the eighth grade. After barely finishing at Henry Clay Middle School in South Los Angeles, he never enrolled in high school. He spent what should have been his freshman year caring for his mother and waiting for police to show up asking why he wasn’t in school.

No one ever came.

“That was the crazy part,” he said. “Nobody called or nothing.”

Thousands of students in California public schools never make it to the ninth grade. According to state officials, 7th and 8th grade dropouts added up to more than 6,400 in the 2012-13 school year – more than 1,000 in the Los Angeles Unified School District alone.

Read the full story here

ACT scores show CA seniors ready for college, at least to start

CA seniors ACT testsCalifornia high school seniors have a better shot at getting through the first year of college than students from most other states, according to ACT’s 2014 Condition of College and Career Readiness report, which was released today.

But many of them will still be entering a world of academic pain.

While students state-wide performed above the national average in English, reading, math and science, only 34 percent, a one point increase over last year, met all four benchmarks.

The ACT is a standardized test designed to measure how well students will perform in first-year college courses. The benchmarks indicate the minimum score needed to have a 50 percent chance of obtaining a “B” or higher or about a 75 percent chance of obtaining a “C” or higher in the corresponding credit-bearing course.

ACT research shows that students who meet those benchmarks are more likely to succeed in college and earn a degree than those who don’t.

Similar to the SAT, it’s one of several measures used by colleges and universities to compare applicants, though the weight placed on ACT scores varies from school to school.

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Ridley-Thomas nominating Johnson to county board seat

Mark Ridley-Thomas (left), Alex Johnson

Mark Ridley-Thomas (left), Alex Johnson


Barely a week after losing to George McKenna for an LA Unified School District board seat, Alex Johnson is eying another board seat.

His former boss, LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, has nominated him to fill a soon-to-be vacant seat on the LA County Board of Education, a body that hears appeals of disputes from local school districts and governs the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and International Polytechnic High School.

Johnson recently stepped down as Assistant Senior Deputy for Education and Public Safety for Ridley-Thomas, who played a major role in generating financial support for Johnson’s school board run.

While Johnson lost to McKenna by 1,814 votes, his campaign raised $421,522, and outside groups, many friendly to Ridley-Thomas, spent another $858,757 on his behalf. Both totals exceeded those for McKenna.

Johnson said on a telephone conference today he is exploring his next job opportunity. Whatever it is, it would need to accommodate a county board schedule that would require him to attend three meetings a month.

The county board is, effectively, a volunteer organization. Any member can be removed at any time, and members receive only a meeting fee of $150 and mileage costs.

Johnson told reporters his has made a commitment “to serve the second district,” which is Ridley-Thomas’s. “That’s my focus right now.” But he dodged a question about whether he would run for the LA Unified board seat he just lost, when it’s up again next year. McKenna was elected only to serve out the term of the former member, the late Marguerite LaMotte.

The vacancy on the seven-member County board is being created by the resignation of Rudell S. Freer, the longest-serving member who was first appointed in 1996 by Yvonne Burke. Freer will remain on the board until Sept. 9. 

For Johnson to claim the seat, he would have to be approved by a vote of the Board of Supervisors, each of whom gets to name one appointment for a four-year term. Two other members serve on the board for two-year terms through rotating appointments.

Johnson would have a four-year term.

Previous Posts: Johnson offers McKenna congratulations for his victory; Ridley-Thomas voter group going all out for Johnson; McKenna victory gives appearance of a pro-teacher union board

* Adds updated information on Johnson’s job status.

Morning Read: Deasy urges respect for 1st Amendment

L.A. Unified principals given guidance on student free speech rights
As unrest continues in Ferguson, Mo. and, to a degree in Los Angeles, after the fatal police shootings of unarmed black men in those cities, Los Angeles schools chief John Deasy asked principals Tuesday to be vigilant in their efforts to provide an environment for students to exercise their 1st Amendment rights. LA Times

County yet to approve LA Unified’s LCAP
The Los Angeles County Office of Education is withholding approval of the Local Control and Accountability Plan drawn up by the Los Angeles Unified School District pending clarification of the $700 million the school district says it spent last year on low-income students, English learners and foster children. EdSource

Demise of the school bond means big spike in housing fees
Fallout from the Brown administration’s decision this month to ice the statewide school bond this November will almost certainly spike developer fees on new housing, by as much as $30,000 per unit in some places. S&I Cabinet Report

Gallup finds opposition to Common Core
Americans are hearing more about the Common Core State Standards and most of them don’t like what they’re hearing, according to a national opinion poll released Wednesday. Edsource

Bill would block expulsion for ‘willful defiance’
The state Senate approved legislation Tuesday that would prevent California schools from expelling students for willfully defying school authorities, a punishment that activists say is unevenly applied and disproportionately affects minority students. Sacramento Bee

McKenna’s final margin is 5.63 points over Johnson

election results McKenna beat JohnsonThe City Clerk Elections Division has certified the results of the LA Unified District 1 election, giving George McKenna final tally of 52.81 percent of the vote, to 47.18 percent for Alex Johnson.

Overall, turnout for the Aug. 12 runoff was 9.5 percent of the district’s 342,493 voters, a disappointing but not horrible count, given that no other election was on the ballot.

McKenna collected 17,025 votes against Johnson’s 15,211.