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San Diego Unified will pay $25,200 to a company that installs audio and visual systems as part of a settlement over how it chose a company to install technology for its $2.1 billion school construction and renovation bond.

Audio Associates of San Diego sued after the school district picked two companies to install interactive whiteboards without competitively bidding the work last June. Instead, San Diego Unified used a process that is commonly used for supplies that have already been competitively bid by the state of California, such as computer technology.

Attorney Kevin Carlin, who represented the company, said it was improper to use that process for construction services, rather than for getting goods. Audio Associates argued it had been unfairly prevented from vying for a chance to do the installation work.

The school district countered that the installation was incidental to the technology, which they saw as the heart of the contract, and that it was therefore legal.

The settlement also requires San Diego Unified to competitively bid the installation services for the next four years of the technology project. Sandra Chong, assistant general counsel to San Diego Unified, said the school district was already going to do that, but had used the state bidding process for the first round because it was rushed.

The school board approved the settlement this week. The two companies that were awarded the installation work, Logical Choice Technologies and Vector Resources, will chip in another $8,400 each to Audio Associates under the agreement.

— EMILY ALPERT

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