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Keokuk, West Burlington Schools Sue Over Tablets

An attempt to give hundreds of students better access to technology did not go as planned for four southeast Iowa school districts.  The result is a lawsuit that claims the electronic devices the districts purchased were faulty.
The lawsuit was filed by representatives of the Keokuk, West Burlington, Van Buren and Albia School Districts against CurriculumLoft, a software company out of Columbus, Ind.  The districts say they purchased nearly 3,000 tablets from the company in 2013.

The KUNO tablets were to be used in school and at home, opening up educational opportunities for students of all ages.  The lawsuit claims, though, that the tablets had technology glitches, are slow and have low battery life.
There have been signs of problems with the devices since they were purchased.

In December 2013, West Burlington Superintendent Dave Schmitt told Tri States Public Radio that staff used the holiday break to boost the district's wireless capability to deal with some connectivity issues.  He also said several of the programs used by students were not working as well as they should.

A similar story came out of Keokuk. 

Superintendent Tim Hood told Tri States Public Radio in May of this year that the devices had "not gone as well as we had hoped." He pointed to connectivity, both on-campus and off-campus as the biggest concern.

Two months later, the district purchased 450 laptops to be part of mobile computer labs.  It was at that time that Hood told Tri States Public Radio the tablets had run their course.

"We are not going to hand out the KUNOS and I can't really say any else more about that right now because of pending litigation," said Hood on July 22.

The districts involved in the lawsuit said the company has refused to provide refunds after they paid nearly $1.6-million for the devices.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.