Pearson, not Apple, to blame for failed L.A. schools technology program

Posted:
in iPad edited April 2015
Though the Los Angeles Unified School District's demand for a multi-million dollar refund from Apple has grabbed headlines, the failure of the $1.3 billion program to create a new digital curriculum for Los Angles students appears to lie primarily with educational publishing company Pearson.




In addition to threatening litigation against Apple and Pearson --?the two primary contractors on the project --? the district has also asked for refunds from Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo and California computer distributor Arey Jones, according to the Los Angeles Times. Pearson's unusable software was cited in those requests as well.

In March, project director Bernadette Lucas told LAUSD staff in an internal memorandum that just 2 of 69 schools use Pearson's materials regularly, thanks to technical or other issues. The balance "have given up on attempting regular use of the app," she wrote.

Under the terms of Apple's contract with the district, the company was responsible for provisioning one iPad per student with a number of apps, including Pearson's digital curriculum, on board. Pearson acted as a subcontractor for Apple, and was slated to deliver the new curriculum in three phases.

According to a Pearson scope-of-work document attached to the project, the curriculum was to be a "unique digital design created expressly to make use of the Apple iPad."

Critically --?and despite being listed in workflow documents as a prerequisite --?Pearson's software was not ready prior to the start of the project. District administrators were only provided with samples.

This means that in effect, the district bought iPads to run software that did not yet exist.

"I believe that it is time for Pearson to either deliver on its promises immediately or provide us with a refund so that we can purchase curriculum that actually works for our students," board member Monica Ratliff said.

Separately, LAUSD counsel indicated that the district is "extremely dissatisfied with the work of Pearson," and is prepared to meet with Apple, Lenovo and others to discuss "the dissociation from Pearson and recoup the costs of Pearson licenses that we paid for but have been unable to use."

Apple still bears some blame as the primary contractor for the project, but appears to have handled the hardware rollout well. While the situation remains fluid, it seems unlikely that Apple will contract with Pearson again, regardless of the outcome in Los Angeles.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    Like I've said, Pearson makes garbage products and should [I]never[/I] have even been a consideration.
  • Reply 2 of 34
    LA Unified has some responsibility in this as well. Having worked in a school district for 30 years, I witnessed to many tech purchases that were nothing more than solutions looking for a problem. School districts should have a clear idea of how they intend to use tech equipment before making such costly purchases. Also, in my district, iPads were purchased as a way to entice students from leaving the district and not go to competing districts, all without a clear plan for using the iPads.
  • Reply 3 of 34
    jackansijackansi Posts: 116member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post



    Like I've said, Pearson makes garbage products and should never have even been a consideration.



    Then why did Apple consider it?

  • Reply 4 of 34
    robmrobm Posts: 1,068member
    jackansi wrote: »

    Then why did Apple consider it?

    Promise of delivery from Pearson.

    PR debacle... for all parties. :no:
  • Reply 5 of 34
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    With Pearson being a subcontractor of Apple, it is indeed Apple's job to respond: it's not Apple's fault directly, but it IS Apple's fault indirectly. (And Apple could go after Pearson themselves, if necessary.)

    P.S. In one of my area schools, a bunch of badly-needed iPads%u2014already equipped with the software the students and teachers need and are familiar with%u2014are locked up in a closet because the teachers who need them are being punished by the union. So the union tells other teachers who do NOT need the iPads request them, reserve them, and simply not claim them. One is a gym teacher, who says that every gym student needs an iPad at all times. Not true--the unclaimed iPads sit behind a lock, while the language students that need them to succeed have to suffer with no computers at all. Just because the language teachers would not go along with an unrelated request to sign a petition on some unrelated issue. The administration can't even get at the iPads%u2014the union has final say.

    School tech (and other politics) seems like a mess in general!
  • Reply 6 of 34
    Since there are two sides to a contract, of course the school district is filing a lawsuit to get out of their side (payment). Presumably there is a termination clause which allows them to end the contract, so in addition to being unhappy with not receiving what they expected, they also must not be happy with what they agreed to in the first place.

    I thought it was fairly shocking to begin with, that they were using bond money, usually directed toward capital improvements, for the iPad acquisition, but even so I'd like to see a bit more reporting on what was actually in the contract.
  • Reply 7 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,001member
    Since there are two sides to a contract, of course the school district is filing a lawsuit to get out of their side (payment). Presumably there is a termination clause which allows them to end the contract, so in addition to being unhappy with not receiving what they expected, they also must not be happy with what they agreed to in the first place.

    I thought it was fairly shocking to begin with, that they were using bond money, usually directed toward capital improvements, for the iPad acquisition, but even so I'd like to see a bit more reporting on what was actually in the contract.

    You shoulda' asked sooner ;) Here 'ya go. I had it in my cloud drive from awhile back but it's also on the web if you look.
    http://tinyurl.com/nlawmhh
  • Reply 8 of 34



    Ha ha, very funny!

  • Reply 9 of 34
    splifsplif Posts: 600member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    You shoulda' asked sooner image Here 'ya go. I had it in my cloud drive from awhile back but it's also on the web if you look.

    http://tinyurl.com/nlawmhh



    Odd that anyone would have this stored.

  • Reply 10 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,001member
    splif wrote: »

    Odd that anyone would have this stored.
    There were questions about the contract a few months back. That's why it's not hard to find a copy on the web. I think it's odd that so many posted comments as facts in this thread without checking the contract to see who the responsible party is.
  • Reply 11 of 34
    cwscws Posts: 59member
    I wish it weren't so, but, as prime contractor, Apple is fully responsible for the performance of its subcontractors.
  • Reply 12 of 34
    magman1979magman1979 Posts: 1,212member

    While I don't think Pearson is 100% at fault, they are largely to blame. Apple did have a responsibility to monitor any sub-contracted company to ensure they were fulfilling their obligations, so Apple can be blamed for that end.

     

    Since we don't know the specific terms of the agreement, we can only speculate on what indemnification Apple had in place with this agreement. To me, knowing how utterly stupid the LAUSD has demonstrated they are, this seems like just another shakedown of the biggest wallet in the agreement, which is Apple. Based on what I read, Apple fulfilled their end of the agreement with the hardware.

  • Reply 13 of 34
    Did LAUSD require Apple to use Pearson's software? I guess I'm asking, who picked Pearson?
  • Reply 14 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,001member
    Did LAUSD require Apple to use Pearson's software? I guess I'm asking, who picked Pearson?
    The superintendent suggested to Apple that they work with Pearson to get the contract. There were some number of private communications between Supt. John Deasy, Pearson and Apple before the contract was supposedly put out to bid. It was all a bit shady from the get-go IMHO. With 20 boxes of documents seized by the FBI it won't be the last we hear about it.
  • Reply 15 of 34
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member
    Oh look, another opinion piece not marked as such.

    Apple is responsible for all their subcontractors. Period. Like the old saying goes, "the buck stops here."
    That said, LA Unified is a mess in every sense of the word, and is a great example of why just throwing money at a problem rarely works.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    saldogsaldog Posts: 46member
    If Pearson was in fact Apple's subcontractor, then Apple is culpable, unless the district insisted on Pearson or otherwise prevented Apple from using an alternative supplier.

    In business, a company is always responsible for its subcontractors. If Pearson has such a reputation for doing bad work, Apple should have known this. They should have vetted them and if they determined they were an unreliable supplier, they should have insisted the District contract directly with them or have some kind of provision in the contract that released Apple of responsibility for their Work Product.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    cash907 wrote: »
    Oh look, another opinion piece not marked as such.

    Apple is responsible for all their subcontractors. Period. Like the old saying goes, "the buck stops here."
    That said, LA Unified is a mess in every sense of the word, and is a great example of why just throwing money at a problem rarely works.

    Oh look, another opinion... Until you know if Apple was directed to use Pearson (by the school) it becomes less clear cut if Apple is totally on the hook.

    My favorite story about "contracts gone wild" is the Woodmen building in Chicago. The insurance company, Woodmen, hired an architect to design their skyscraper. The architect selected a certain window manufacturer's windows for the project. The project went out for bid and was awarded properly to a general contractor, who built the building with the proper windows according to the manufacturer's instructions. Woodmen moved into the building and everyone was happy until the windows began to fall out of the building and came crashing down on the sidewalks below.

    Then came the finger pointing and the litigation. Everyone involved was blaming the others for the fiasco. All of the parties to the contract (from the architect on down) had insurance that had to cough up the costs of a remedy. In all the cases there was one insurance company everyone used... you guessed it. The insurance company was the same as the building owner... They were suing themselves.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    saldogsaldog Posts: 46member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Saldog View Post



    If Pearson was in fact Apple's subcontractor, then Apple is culpable, unless the district insisted on Pearson or otherwise prevented Apple from using an alternative supplier.



    In business, a company is always responsible for its subcontractors. If Pearson has such a reputation for doing bad work, Apple should have known this. They should have vetted them and if they determined they were an unreliable supplier, they should have insisted the District contract directly with them or have some kind of provision in the contract that released Apple of responsibility for their Work Product.



    I see now from looking at the contract that it appears Apple had no warranty for any non-Apple products. They were sold "As-Is" with no warranty. Apple of course disclaimed all implied warranties as well. Looks like they are covered contractually, if there is no other legal precedent which somehow makes them responsible for performance of the sub.

  • Reply 19 of 34
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,001member
    saldog wrote: »

    I see now from looking at the contract that it appears Apple had no warranty for any non-Apple products. They were sold "As-Is" with no warranty. Apple of course disclaimed all implied warranties as well. Looks like they are covered contractually, if there is no other legal precedent which somehow makes them responsible for performance of the sub.
    There's a couple of sections that would seem to apply. Paragraph 21:

    FAILURE OF CONTRACTOR TO PROVIDE THE PRODUCTS, SOFTWARE OR SERVICES AS AGREED If Contractor fails to properly and satisfactorily perform the Services or provide the Products or Software ordered by the District under a purchase order that has been received by Contractor (a"breach"), and, except to the extent of a delay arising from a Force Majeure Event, if any of the following conditions occur:a. a breach by Contractor capable of being cured within thirty (30) days, is not cured withinthirty (30) days after Contractor's receipt of written notice of breach from the District to Contractor; orb. a breach by Contractor not capable of being cured within thirty (30) days and Contractor failsto (i) proceed promptly and diligently to correct the breach, and (ii) cure the breach within ninety (90) days after receiving the District's written notice of such breach; or then, the District may make arrangements elsewhere for the purchase of the particular Products, Software, or Services, that were not provided as required by this Section 21,provided, however that nothing in this Section 21 shall limit or be construed as limiting the District's obligations to issue prompt and full payment to Contractor for amounts dueContractor for Services, Products and Software provided. A "breach" may include but is not limited to: late or non deliveries, partial deliveries, delivery of wrong material, products notmeeting specification, giving wrong prices, invoicing problems, etc

    Paragraph 42:
    42. SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS a. Performance Of Contract The Contractor shall: (1) Be responsible to the District for all acts and omissions of its own personnel, and of subcontractors, suppliers and their employees; and(2) Be responsible for coordinating the work performed by subcontractors and suppliers.(3) As the prime contractor, Apple should serve as LAUSD's primary contact for any and all questions involving the hardware, software or related services offered under its Common Core Solution. Additionally, in order to provide consistent and accurate messaging, Apple requires its subcontractor to include it in any and all substantive communications or negotiations with LAUSD. Should a portion of the subcontracted performance of this Contract not be performed in accordance with the terms of the Contract, or if a subcontractor commits or omits any act that would constitute a breach of the Contract, the subcontractor shall be replaced and shall not again be employed under the Contract

    And 44
    44. STANDARDS OF PERFORMANCE a. The Contractor shall perform and require its subcontractors to perform the Services and manufacture the Products in accordance with the requirements of the Contract and in accordance with professional standards of skill, care, and diligence adhered to by firms recognized for their expertise, experience and knowledge in performing work of a similar nature. The Contractor shall be responsible for the professional quality, technical accuracy,completeness, and coordination of the performance of the Contract, it being understood that the District will be relying upon such professional quality, accuracy, completeness, and coordination in utilizing the Products, Software and Services. The foregoing obligations and standards shall constitute the "Standard of Performance" for purposes of the Contract.
  • Reply 20 of 34
    [quote name="cws" url="/t/185817/pearson-not-apple-to-blame-for-failed-l-a-schools-technology-program#post_2711139"]I wish it weren't so, but, as prime contractor, Apple is fully responsible for the performance of its subcontractors.[/quote

    I totally agree!

    As the prime, Apple is responsible for the success of the project or at least mitigating the failure.

    It appears they did neither!
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