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Grand jury looks at computer spending in Broward County (Fla.) district

March 22, 2021
The district has spent more than $200 million on Lenovo devices and accessories since 2013.

A Florida grand jury is reviewing the Broward County School District’s spending on computers, many of which were bought through questionable bidding practices amid numerous complaints about their quality.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that the review involves the more than $200 million the district has paid for Lenovo devices and accessories since 2013.

One of the most vocal advocates for Lenovo was Tony Hunter, the district’s former chief information officer, who persuaded the school board to give Lenovo an exclusive $81 million contract in 2016.

For years, teachers, students and school board members have complained that the computers would crash, keys would fall off and touchpads would stop working.

Hunter was arrested in January on bid rigging and bribery charges related to a different technology contract. The arrest was part of a grand jury investigation of school safety and corruption. Hunter has pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing.

Hunter hasn’t been charged with any impropriety related to Lenovo, but the grand jury has been reviewing the purchases.

Hunter left the district in 2019.

That year, new Chief Information Officer Phil Dunn acknowledged problems with Lenovo products. He said the models previously bought by the district were too low-end to serve the district well.

When the district sought bids for a computer refresh program in 2019, the district upgraded its specifications to ensure the computers would be more rugged. Three companies bid, and once again Lenovo won, offering the lowest price at just under $55 million.

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