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LA schools want multi-million Apple refund after kids hack iPads

$1.3bn of locked-down Apple tech issued to school kids. Success was surely inevitable

By Alexander J Martin, 16 Apr 2015

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has informed Apple that it will not accept continued deliveries of iPads to students, and will be seeking a multi-million-dollar refund from the company.

The Instructional Technology Initiative (ITI) – a programme estimated to have cost up to $1.3bn and which would have seen the LAUSD purchase iPads for every student in the district – is set to be committed to the flames following an escalating series of cock-ups after kids hacked their tablets, and the district wants to recover its expenses from Apple, according to local radio station KPCC.

In 2013, LAUSD administrators backtracked on their policy of allowing students to take their school-issued iPads home after kids in the pilot scheme inevitably subverted the "device management" software to free up their internet and app access.

Rather than consider the educational value that could be produced by engaging with young, motivated people who had hacked their way to freedom Facebook, the officials seem to consider human nature an impediment to their scheme and chalked the incident up in the Negatives column. When LAUSD bureaucrats subsequently demanded kids return the tablets, only two thirds were actually handed back.

A year later the already-troubled scheme was suspended following an investigation by KPCC, which raised questions about the LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy's connections with both Apple, who were delivering the iPads, and Pearson, who were loading them with educationware. John Deasy, who denies any wrongdoing, has since resigned from his position. The LA Times has reported that the FBI are now conducting a criminal investigation into the affair.

David Holmquist, LAUSD attorney, wrote to Apple's general counsel to complain that: "While Apple and Pearson promised a state-of-the-art technological solution for ITI implementation, they have yet to deliver it. As [LAUSD] approach the end of the school year, the vast majority of students are still unable to access the Pearson curriculum on iPads."

In a statement sent to The Register, a Pearson spokesperson said: "​This was a large-scale implementation of new technologies and there have been challenges with the initial adoption, but we stand by the quality of our performance.​"​

The Register has contacted Apple and and is awaiting a response. ®

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