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L.A. Unified settles suit with student data software vendor

John Deasy, Superintentent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, at a school board meeting in August.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Unified School District paid $3.75 million Thursday to settle a lawsuit with the vendor of a software system designed to track attendance, grades, schedules and other student data, officials said.

The agreement, which was disclosed by the district Thursday, came after a two-year court battle between L.A. Unified and two companies -- Maximus Inc. and Harris Education Consulting – that developed the student information system.

Known as the Integrated Student Information System, or ISIS, that program was intended to help L.A. Unified comply with a federal consent decree stemming from a lawsuit over alleged violations of the rights of special education students.

L.A. Unified spent $112 million developing the system, but never fully implemented it. Instead, the district switched course in 2012 and developed a new system using code developed by Microsoft and the Fresno Unified School District. That system, known as My Integrated Student Information System, or MISIS, had a rocky launch last month, with teachers reporting widespread glitches in the software.

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The district contracted with Maximus in 2003 to build the original software. Harris bought Maximus’ education software division in 2008 and took over the contract.

In 2012, the district filed an arbitration demand against the two vendors, followed by a lawsuit. District officials argued the system is “not only several years late, it is also incomplete and plagued with critical problems.”

The district also argued that Harris should not have taken over the contract from Maximus without approval from the school board and sought to have the company pay back $12 million.

A panel of arbitrators ruled against Los Angeles Unified and ordered the district to pay $10 million to Harris. A Superior Court judge later reduced the amount to about $6 million. Both sides appealed the decision.

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The settlement brings the case to an end.

The district spent $2.3 million on outside attorneys litigating the case from arbitration through the appeal, said the district’s chief business and compliance counsel, Gregory McNair.

McNair said the district was “satisfied with the terms of the settlement.” An attorney for Harris declined to comment.

Follow Abby Sewell on Twitter at @sewella.

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