Annie Gilbertson of KPCC in Los Angeles reports that internal emails show that district officials met and emailed Apple and Pearson a year before the bidding process for new technology and software began.

“Emails obtained by KPCC show Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy personally began meeting with Pearson and Apple to discuss the eventual purchase of their products starting nearly a year before the contract went out to public bid.

“Detailed in dozens of emails, the early private talks included everything from prices – about $160 million over five years – to tech support.

“On behalf of those involved in Pearson Common Core System of Courses, I want you to know how much we are looking forward to our partnership with LAUSD,” Pearson staffer Sherry King wrote the head of curriculum for L.A. Unified at the time, Jaime Aquino, in November 2013. “We have begun to work closely with your leadership to help make the transition to the common core smooth for everyone.”

“Emails show Deasy met with CEO of Pearson in May 2012 and later told her it led him to have “excited” conversations with his staff upon his return.”

Deasy also met with Apple officials in 2012.

School officials declined to comment.

“Michael Josephson, of the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Los Angeles, said it’s possible Pearson was the best choice and school officials didn’t mean to play to favorites – but it doesn’t look good.

“You absolutely don’t want a situation where contracts are being steered to favorites,” he said. “It invites kickbacks. It invites skimming. It invites bribery. That’s totally unacceptable.”