It's mind-boggling that this sweetheart deal has gone undetected by the Utah Charter School Board, but, incredibly, the two companies have been paid $10.5 million in taxpayer money to recruit and manage the education of these Utah children, which often means they take just a few classes online.
Once the children's names show up on the school's rolls, the school pays little attention to their progress, leaving their supervision to the private companies. In many cases, the audit shows, schools are either ignoring rules or there are no rules.
In an interesting twist, Harmony was founded by Robert Muhlestein, a former state senator.
Some egregious findings in the audit, reported by The Tribune:
• Some schools don't verify that teachers in the private online programs have Utah licenses and have passed background checks, or that classes follow Utah's core curriculum standards.
• At least one school and its contractor are getting state money for teaching home-school courses, which do not qualify for funding.
• Some charter schools are providing online classes when the charters that outline their responsibilities and limitations don't say they can.
• Some schools did not follow state procurement laws, which the state office has to report to the attorney general's office for investigation.
Utah has 90 charter schools, and 15 of them, along with 23 of the state's 41 school districts have online or distance-learning programs.
The State Board of Education and the charter board have a lot of work to do to clean up this mess. They owe it to Utah children to get busy.