iPad report shared only with LAUSD officials in secrecy
Vanessa Romo | August 25, 2014
A draft report on LA Unified’s handling of the controversial iPad contract that was leaked to media outlets last week was made available to board members and district administrators only if they agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement, barring them from sharing the report with anyone.
While some signed, others, including Superintendent John Deasy, did not, leading one board member to raise questions about the legality of such a demand. Deasy said today he has still not been given a copy of the draft report.
The request for non-disclosure agreements came from board member Monica Ratliff, chair of the Common Core Technology Project Committee and author of the report, who has led the 10-month long effort to evaluate the program and recommend changes.
The draft report was supposed to remain confidential while participants provided feedback. The report was believed to have been given only to members of Ratliff’s committee, a group that included board member Tamar Galatzan; Quynh Nguyen, a member of the LA Unified Bond Oversight Committee; Ron Chandler, the district’s chief information officer; and Gerardo Loera, executive director of curriculum instruction.
Galatzan, a deputy city attorney, had assigned a staffer to represent her on the committee. She told LA School Report today she declined to sign the non-disclosure and, thus, did not receive a copy of the draft from Ratliff, who is also a lawyer.
“In order for me to see the draft document, that had my name on it, I had to pledge to [Ratliff] in writing that I wouldn’t even speak to my own staff about it,” Galatzan said.
According to recipients of the leaked report, KPCC and the LA Times, the report raises questions about the biding process on the district’s iPad program and the relationship between Deasy and the iPads’ maker, Apple; and between Jaime Aquino, a former Deasy deputy, and Pearson, creator of the educational software company loaded onto the iPads. Aquino had previously worked for Pearson.
Galtazan said she intends to raise the non-disclosure issue tomorrow during the first board meeting of the new school year.
“I just want the board president [Richard Vladovic] to chime in on this, and I have a lot of questions about it,” she said. “Is this something that we’re going to do moving forward?”
She continued, “It’s very scary and undemocratic to me to to say, ‘You’re only allowed to use my interpretation of the facts in order to move forward.’ I think that has a huge chilling effect on our work as public servants.”
It’s expected that General Counsel David Holmquist will offer an opinion at the meeting on whether a commitee chairman has the right to demand secrecy on a report.
“The lawyer in me knows, as I’m sure the lawyer in Ms. Ratliff does, that this document is not-enforceable,” Galatzan said. “But I’m not going to sign something that I’m not going to be able to abide by.”
Galatzan added that in a conversation with her today, Holmquist said the request for secrecy is not enforceable.
Messages seeking comment from Ratliff and Holmquist were not returned.
The school board meeting is scheduled to start with the symbolic swearing in of the newly elected District 1 board member, George McKenna, by civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters.