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Los Angeles School Board Imposes New Restrictions on iPad Plan

The Los Angeles Unified School District voted Tuesday night to impose new conditions on the rollout of the nation's largest 1-to-1 student computing initiative, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Board members reportedly cited a wide range of concerns, including the structure and cost of the school system's contract with Apple, Inc., the effectiveness of district policies in place to manage the distribution of new iPads to tens of thousands of students, the wisdom of providing high school students with tablets instead of laptop computers, and the curriculum that comes preloaded on the devices.

The 6-1 vote will allow the project's first phase, which involves 30,000 iPads being distributed to 47 school campuses this school year, to continue as originally planned. But an evaluation of the initiative and its effect on student achievement will now take place after this year, potentially delaying the project's subsequent phases by as much as a year, according to the Times report.

The newspaper quoted Los Angeles school board president Richard Vladovic as saying, "We are not going to be back off on our technology efforts."

The vote comes on the heels of a turbulent several months for the Los Angeles district and its ambitious, billion-dollar plan to provide 660,000 iPads to students and staff. 

Almost as soon as the first devices rolled out, some students bypassed their security filters in order to gain free access to the Internet. Some have complained about a lack of clear protocols for outlining liability for the devices in the event of theft or damage.

And Education Week reported last month about widespread confusion and concern among classroom teachers that a new common-core curriculum from education publishing giant Pearson that comes preloaded on all the devices and is meant to eventually be the primary instructional resource in the district is being rolled out despite being far from complete.

There has also been turmoil among LAUSD's leadership: Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Jaime Aquino announced in September that he is stepping down, citing a hostile political climate, and a week-long drama surrounding the potential resignation of superintendent John Deasy unfolded last month before the schools chief eventually decided to stay.

Follow @BenjaminBHerold and @EdWeekEdTech for the latest news on ed-tech policies, practices, and trends. 

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