Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Audit Supervisor Leah Blevins speaks during a Legislative Audit Subcommittee meeting at the Utah State Capitol Tuesday June 24, 2014. Blevins discussed an audit that looked into allegations concerning how a new math textbook was chosen for Utah schools. The audit concluded that the Utah State Office of Education did nothing wrong.
Audit swats down BYU math professors’ allegations
First Published Jun 24 2014 09:29 pm • Last Updated Jun 25 2014 08:57 am

A team of Brigham Young University math professors who lost a bid to write Utah’s new seventh- and eighth-grade math textbook in 2012 lost again Tuesday.

The Office of Legislative Auditor General released an audit that found no merit to allegations brought by BYU professors Jeffery Humpherys and David Wright against the Utah State Office of Education (USOE).

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Shortly after losing the bid, the BYU professors lodged 22 charges of conflict of interest, bias and anti-competitive practices against the USOE, which awarded the $600,000 contract to a team led by University of Utah math professor Hugo Rossi.

The Utah Division of Purchasing and General Services investigated and rejected the allegations, and the attorney general’s office, which looked at the only allegation that was potentially criminal, agreed.

BYU did not appeal, but two lawmakers asked the Legislature’s auditors to take another look at the bidding process.

The resulting audit, shared with the Legislature’s Audit Subcommittee on Tuesday, concurred with those earlier conclusions.

"Our review confirms their findings that these allegations do not appear to have merit, and there is no credible evidence of wrongdoing," the audit said.

Wright and Humpherys, speaking on their own and not for BYU, rejected the findings.

"They absolutely got it wrong," said Humpherys, who contends the USOE "put together" the U. team, overlooked that the U. team plagiarized a textbook sample in its bid and failed to meet other elements of USOE’s request-for-proposals.

"It’s very clear the Office of Education has a good ol’ boys club and there are a lot of conflicts of interest," he said. "If this stuff went down at the federal level, people would be going to jail," Humpherys said.

story continues below
story continues below

Humpherys said the 2012 legislation that led to the state spending $600,000 for a homegrown textbook was his idea in the first place. He suggested it to Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, and Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, ended up carrying the bill, SB217. Humphreys said he helped write the bill.

"If they had beat us fair and square, I’d have said, ‘That team kicked our butt.’" Humpherys said.

Wright, whose utahmath.org website details what he sees as USOE’s failures based on evidence such as emails he attained through Utah’s open records law, said he’s not inclined to drop the matter. "I will certainly talk to lawmakers," Wright said.

He rejected the notion that their complaint is nothing more than resentment over the U. team’s victory. (The U. team also has a member from BYU’s education college and from Utah State University.)

"I’m sure people will say that. That is one interpretation," Wright said.

Rather, he said, "We at BYU had been pushing USOE for years to improve math instruction. And this is just one instance of how they are not being responsive to what we consider good for math education in Utah."

Rossi, who is on vacation, said by email that Humpherys and Wright know their allegations are false but persist anyway.

"Suffice to say that in academia and most civilized businesses, most people are fired for making accusations with as little merit as those being made by Dr. Humpherys and Wright," Rossi wrote.

Brenda Hales, deputy superintendent of public education, said the USOE takes pains "to be absolutely sure there is no bias," as it decides among bidders for contracts.

Nonetheless, she said, Utah’s math community is small, so USOE employees inevitably know — or have worked with — those who are part of bidding teams.

"I’m glad that the Legislative Auditor General found the same thing that I did, the same thing that Purchasing did, and the same thing that the AG’s office did," Hale said. "I hope this will be sufficient to put it to rest."

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.