Questions surface why iPads purchased by the state are sitting in a warehouse instead of in schools


Questions are surfacing about thousands of iPads, meant for students, that are sitting in a state warehouse.

Some claim the devices are just gathering dust after the Department of Public Instruction spent millions on them.

They were purchased by the state Department of Public Instruction —and starting last year, they were supposed to be integrated into classrooms.

CBS Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia started looking into this a year ago and found out then that not all of them made it into classrooms, and some were even intentionally warehoused.

When students arrived at Buckhorn Elementary in Holly Springs last year, State Superintendent Mark Johnson was there to tout his iPad in the classroom program.

“It’s not just a tool for teachers to help in their classrooms. It’s a tool that can be used for students,” he said at the time.

Johnson explained the original purchase saying he used unspent money that was “found” in the DPI budget and used that to buy the iPads.

The state spent $6 million purchasing 24,000 iPads, but public records CBS 17 pulled at the time showed over 1,700 of them were going to be warehoused.

The superintendent explained it this way:

“The ones we are warehousing, we’re actually going to work to get them to teachers who’ll start to use them in a new program where instead of testing students in 2nd or 3rdgrade. They’ll let students use those iPads.”

State Superintendent Mark Johnson

Many Wake County schools already had iPads provided with money from school bond funds, so school officials told CBS 17 last year that the 2,477 devices allocated to it by the state were put away to be kept in reserve as replacements.

But a website by an Education watchdog group now claims there are more than 3,200 iPads sitting idle in a textbook warehouse gathering dust.

When Sbraccia asked the state about he was told, “over 800 additional iPads were purchased a month ago.” 

DPI spokesman Graham Wilson says the number of stored iPads is actually 2,400 which are now in storage.

So, why aren’t they in classrooms? 

Wilson says, “the 2,400 iPads will go out to districts for this school year. Extensive, strategic work has been conducted by DPI over the summer to deliver more funds and support to schools.”

When Sbraccia asked to see the iPads, he was denied permission and told they were, “in a secure location.”

When the distribution of the iPads comes, not every district will get the same number of them.

As Sbraccia found out last year, the iPads are distributed based on a formula.

The DPI says it’ll announce next week how many of those iPads will be put into use and which school districts will get them.

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