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Federal inquiry into LAUSD’s iPad program ends with no charges

Sarah Favot | February 21, 2017

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General Counsel David Holmquist and Superintendent Michelle King

General Counsel David Holmquist and Superintendent Michelle King

A federal grand jury inquiry into LA Unified’s purchase of iPads has ended, officials said Tuesday.

No charges were filed.

“We have received notification from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that the investigation has been closed,” LA Unified’s General Counsel David Holmquist said in a statement.

It has been more than two years since the school district received grand jury subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney’s Office seeking records relating to the procurement process for the iPads as part of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which also seized 20 boxes of files from LA Unified headquarters. 

“Since then, the district had been fully cooperating with the federal government’s investigation,” Holmquist said in the statement.

“The FBI is in the process of returning evidence to LAUSD as the investigation has been concluded,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said in a statement. “No further comment is expected.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

The November 2014 grand jury subpoena sought information related to the bidding process for the massive $1.3 billion Common Core Technology Project. The program, which aimed to give every student and teacher in LA Unified a computer tablet, was one of the major initiatives undertaken by former Superintendent John Deasy, who resigned in the program’s wake.

Deasy paused the purchase of new iPads under the contract in August 2014 after emails surfaced showing that he and a deputy, Jamie Aquino, had a close relationship with Apple and Pearson, a company that provided educational software for the iPads. Deasy’s successor, Ramon Cortines, canceled the contract the day after the FBI seized the documents and later abandoned the goal of giving every student and teacher a tablet.

The emails showed that both Deasy and Aquino were in close contact with Pearson and Apple before the contract was awarded. Aquino was a former employee of a Pearson subsidiary, and to some it looked as if the bid was rigged in favor of Apple and Pearson. In media interviews, both Deasy and Aquino denied any wrongdoing. Aquino had already left the district when the emails were revealed, and Deasy resigned just a few months later.

The targets of the FBI investigation were unknown.

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