LA Unified's iPad Nightmare Worsens - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Tony McEwing

LA Unified's iPad Nightmare Worsens

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The billion dollar plan by the Los Angeles Unified School District to supply all 600,000 of its students with iPads has been fraught with problems and missteps almost from the very beginning. And now the district's iPad quagmire has deepened. The latest  complication involves an attempt to recall thousands of iPads issued on several campuses after hundreds of students hacked security measures allowing them to use the computers for purposes other than schoolwork. The recall is hitting a snag because not all the devices have been returned. So far about 700 iPads are still missing from just one high school alone. At $700 a piece, that's a total of about $490,000! And there's no word yet whether all of the iPads at the other schools have come back.

The hacking problem is one district officials should have seen coming. Kids are nothing these days if not tech savvy. One of my colleagues has a two and a half year old boy who is already surprisingly adept at using his mother's iPad. Why district officials didn't foresee the possibility of high school students working their way around the computer's security system is hard to understand. And district officials still haven't figured out just how many students were able to breach the security system. For sure well over 300, but maybe even more.

Right now the district seems undaunted in its determination to implement the iPad program but clearly changes will have to be made. School districts in Nevada and Oklahoma have issued their students iPads as well but the kids aren't ever allowed to take them home. LA Unified may need to adopt a similar rule. District officials say they're working with Apple to develop a stronger security solution. But some students are already saying no matter how sophisticated the security is, they'll find a way around it if they want to.

And there are so many more issues that still have to be worked out. Who is responsible when an iPad is lost, stolen or broken? Apple has agreed to replace 5% of the devices without charge but that's it.  Will the student-issued iPads eventually need keyboards and, if so, where does the extra $38 million come from? And questions are now being raised about the quality of the educational software on the computers.

These are all things you would think district officials would have hammered out before spending $30 million on the initial iPad rollout. And the superintendent is scheduled to request another $200 million next month. Perhaps it's time for the school board to do a reboot of its iPad program to work out the numerous bugs. Otherwise LA Unified's billion dollar baby could become a billion dollar boondoggle.

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