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Board Turns a ‘Retreat’ into a Special Meeting on iPads

Hillel Aron | October 2, 2013

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Board member Monica Ratliff

Board member Monica Ratliff

Responding to incidents of iPad misuse at district schools and widespread public criticism over problems with the rollout, the LA Unified board yesterday approved setting a special meeting later this month to “publicly grapple” with iPad issues.

The 5-2 vote on a resolution from Monica Ratliff, who chairs a committee that oversees the iPad initiative, turned a planned “retreat” for board members on Oct. 29 into a meeting specifically devoted to one of the district’s biggest policy initiatives, getting an iPad into the hands of every student and teacher by the end of next year. The retreat was pushed back to November.

“It’s not that I don’t believe district personnel is working on these issues,” Ratliff said after raising several iPad issues that have burst into public view. “I think that the board needs to weigh in.”

In promoting a separate meeting on iPad issues, Ratliff said she was dismayed to read newspaper accounts of “security breaches” before board members were briefed on the incidents.

“Much of what has been reported in the media is not accurate,” countered board member Tamar Galatzan. She did not identify any specific story although many accounts have depicted the actions taken by students at Roosevelt High as “hacking.” In fact, students were taking advantage of a seemingly obvious loophole, deleting their user account to gain open internet access.

Just before the vote, board member Bennett Kayser asked if he could expand the focus of the meeting to include iPad software, a product of Pearson. He said he had examined one of the district’s iPads and found the software lacking, saying “it’s either not there or doesn’t work.” Ratliff, the newest board member, agreed to include software issues in the meeting agenda

Galatzan objected to the proposal for a new meeting, telling Ratliff, rather pointedly, “Some of these questions have been answered a year ago, before you got here.”

Board member Monica Garcia objected as well, saying that it was another instance of the board trying to micromanage things.

“It is not wise to think that we seven create policies,” she said, in a clear indication that not only is the board ideologically divided, they don’t even agree on what their role should be.

As they often are, Galatzan and Garcia were the lone dissenters on the vote.

iPad issues will get an unusual public airing tomorrow night, when Superintendent John Deasy will appear on the district’s public TV station, KLCS, to answer questions in a live call-in show. The program starts at 6 p.m.; viewers can pose questions by calling 1-800-527-8839 or emailing

Previous posts: Live: LAUSD Board Meeting Via Twitter; LA Unified Removes iPads From Hackers’ High SchoolsLA Unified Wants Student Hackers on an Anti-Hacking PaneliPads Hacked? ‘Surprised it Took This Long,’ Says Zimmer

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