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Apple's Georgia laptop deal hits snag

Judge agrees with opponents who said voters weren't sufficiently informed that sales tax would fund school program.

One of Apple Computer's largest ever education deals--a tentative pact to sell 63,000 iBooks to an Atlanta-area school district--has suffered a serious setback following an adverse ruling by a Georgia court.

Apple announced in February that it was on the verge of striking a deal with the Cobb County School District that would eventually equip each of the district's teachers, middle- and high-school students with a laptop. The district's board gave initial approval for a first round of laptop purchases for teachers and four pilot high schools.

However, took the school district to court, alleging that voters weren't sufficiently informed that a 1 percent sales tax approved in 2003 would be used to start the program.

A judge agreed last week and ordered a halt to the rollout, prompting the school district to rethink its plans at a special meeting on Monday night.

After the meeting, the board reportedly decided not to proceed with the Apple program, though it may appeal the judge's ruling. The effort to equip all students with laptops "is no longer an option," board President Kathie Johnstone is quoted as saying in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article. The article said the district may still go ahead with plans to give laptops to teachers since school officials already had promised them a "computing device" in the materials they distributed before the sales tax passed in 2003.

An Apple representative was not immediately able to comment on the recent events. Apple had issued a press release in May touting the importance of the win.

Prior to Monday's meeting, the school board had issued a statement saying, "The Cobb County Board of Education is disappointed in Friday's court decision regarding the use of SPLOST funds for technology improvements in the school district."