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LA schools want refund from Apple over slipshod iPad project

Following an iPad rollout that went wrong, the school district is considered legal action against Apple and another company involved in the project, says the LA Times.

The LA School District is unhappy over an iPad project gone awry. Apple

The Los Angeles School District is not too happy with Apple and training company Pearson as a result of a project to outfit students with iPads that didn't go as planned.

The school district wants to get back millions of dollars that it spent on the project from Apple, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday. The district has also been given approval to look into potential legal action against both Apple and Pearson, which created the learning material and curriculum as a subcontractor to Apple.

In 2013, Apple scored a $30 million deal with the LA School District to offer iPads to all students across 47 campuses of the LA district, the second largest school district in the U.S. But things seemed to go wrong almost from the get-go.

The school district ended up paying $768 per iPad with the Pearson curriculum costing an additional $200 per tablet. The overall price tag was expected to reach at least $500 million with another $800 million spent to improve Internet access at the schools, the Times said.

Students began hacking the iPads to surf the Web and use them for non-school related activities. The Pearson curriculum received a thumbs down for a variety of reasons, the Times added. The material was not easily adaptable for students who weren't proficient in English. No online tests were available, and Pearson offered no tools to analyze how well the curriculum was working, according to the district. Technical issues also apparently popped up.

"Only two schools of 69 in the Instructional Technology Initiative (ITI)...use Pearson regularly," according to an internal March report from ITI project director Bernadette Lucas obtained by the LA Times. "Any given class typically experiences one problem or more daily. Teachers report that the students enjoy the interactive content -- when it's available. When it's not, teachers and students try to roll with the interruptions to teaching and learning as best they can."

Almost a year ago, the district sent a letter to Apple asking the company to fix the issues with the Pearson curriculum. Another letter sent to Apple this past Monday said that the district "will not accept or compensate Apple for new deliveries of [Pearson] curriculum." The letter also stated that the district would not pay for any additional Pearson services. At this point, the district wants to arrange a meeting so it can recoup the money it spent on Pearson licenses but have yet been able to use.

The FBI has even been conducting an investigation over the bidding process that awarded the contracts to Apple and Pearson, the LA Times reported last December.

Apple did not immediately responded to CNET's requests for comment.

Stacy Skelly, Pearson's vice president for corporate affairs, said in a statement that the company is "proud of our long history working with LAUSD and our significant investment in this groundbreaking initiative to transform instructional practices and raise expectations for all students."

The statement continued: "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."