Sweetwater school district now says it sold off 8,800 aging iPads
A Sweetwater Union High School District iPad is displayed in their district offices on May 26, 2017. Brandon Quester, inewsource

Sweetwater school district now says it sold off 8,800 aging iPads

The Sweetwater Union High School District has announced it sold almost 8,800 outdated iPads from the district’s student technology initiative.

The announcement came on Wednesday, nearly two weeks after inewsource published a story that found 90 percent of the nearly 8,000 iPads purchased by the district in 2012 were classified as lost, stolen or “out of inventory — damaged.”

“A lot of (the devices classified as damaged) was actually stuff that was sold,” Manuel Rubio, a district spokesman, said Thursday. He said the district closely tracks every device to prevent losses.

Rubio said the sales began in 2017, but he could not be more specific. It’s unclear if they occurred after inewsource first requested data about the status of the district’s iPads.

Click here to see the Sweetwater iPad status documents

Click here to see the Sweetwater iPad status documents part 1 and part 2

In the Wednesday post on its website, the district listed 706 iPads purchased in 2012 as still active — less than 9 percent of the total bought that year.

Of the remaining 2012 iPads, 5,523 were sold some time this year to Gazelle, an online used electronics retailer. Gazelle allows businesses to sell devices in bulk.

inewsource originally reported that Sweetwater purchased 7,952 iPads in 2012. That number, Rubio said, includes tablets that aren’t part of the 1 to 1 Initiative, a multi-year program to get iPads or laptops to all students in the district. Of those, data provided by the district to inewsource classified 704 as active and 304 as lost or stolen. Another 6,680 were categorized as “out of inventory — damaged.”

“A lot of it was miscategorized, that’s our bad,” Rubio said. “That’s our fault. We’re taking full responsibility for that.”

In total, 8,791 iPads purchased in 2012 through 2014 have been sold this year to Gazelle, according to the district.

In its web post, the district did not provide details on when they were sold, for how much, and how many of those iPads were operational or damaged at the time of the sale.

inewsource first requested data on the status of Sweetwater’s iPads in January. On May 31, inewsource asked Sweetwater for more information about the 90 percent of devices categorized as lost, stolen or “out of inventory — damaged.” That was about three weeks before inewsource’s original story was published.

At the time, the district did not respond to requests for clarification or say the district had or was planning to sell some of the devices.

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Frank Tarantino, a Sweetwater trustee, said on Thursday he welcomes any program that helps save the district money.

“Any money that is made from selling the devices goes back into the program,” he said. “That helps in that the general fund doesn’t have to support as much.”

According to the data provided to inewsource, Sweetwater bought 29,941 iPads between 2012 and 2014. Of those, 13,066 were categorized as “out of inventory — damaged.” About half of those were classified that way from 2012 to 2016, before the district says it began selling the devices this year.

Rubio said the district continued buying new iPads to ensure all students who were part of the 1 to 1 Initiative had a device. The district has also recently switched to a lease model that estimates a useful life of two to three years for the tablets. He said the district is also working to provide inewsource with more data about the sales.

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About Leonardo Castañeda:

Leonardo Castañeda
Leonardo Castañeda is a reporter and economic analyst for inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, please email leocastaneda [at] inewsource [dot] org.