Kokua Line


Kokua Line

By June Watanabe



Tuesday, January 19, 1999


District may handle
concern about teacher

Is there a point of contact with the state Department of Education when there is a problem with a school that can't be resolved at the principal's level? We feel an instructor is biased and the principal won't do anything. How do we file a complaint and with whom?

"We encourage most concerns to be dealt with at the school level," said DOE spokesman Greg Knudsen. If that's not possible, the next step is to take it to the district level, normally the deputy district superintendent, who will conduct a review and, if necessary, intervene and make a decision, he said.

If you're still not satisfied, you can call the state superintendent's office.

But "there are some things that can't be handled and reviewed thoroughly at the state level," Knudsen said, "so it's hard to say that, automatically, there is a three-step process."

For example, geographic exception complaints frequently arise, he said, and rules clearly state that the district office has the final decision in those cases.

Asked about the role of the Board of Education, Knudsen said the BOE sets general policy and doesn't normally get involved in administrative matters.

If there is an issue of general concern -- something which may affect the school system as a whole -- "then at least it's good in an information manner to let the board know what's happening," he said. "But the board has no direct authority to overturn day-to-day operations. That's administrative. That's the role of the department."

That said, there is a foot note, Knudsen added. "In certain cases, as they get really complicated and more legal, there are some circumstances in which the board is supposed to serve as the court of last resort. But it's more the exception."

Tapa

Do you have any information on the SG Cowen company? It sent me two letters saying it had purchased my brokerage account from my old company. But none of the numbers it cited matched up. When I called, the person I spoke with said "it was just a mistake." When I asked how they got my name and address, I never got a straight answer.

For similar queries, call the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii, 536-6956. It is a good source for information about companies here and on the mainland, as well as on scams.

The BBB of Metropolitan New York responded to the local organization's request for information, saying Cowen, which sells securities, commodities, bonds and/or other miscellaneous investments through 16 domestic offices, is rated satisfactory. Firms generally are rated satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

To qualify for a satisfactory rating, "a company must be in business for one year, respond to bureau requests, not have an unusual volume or pattern of complaints and not be the subject of serious law enforcement actions," according to the BBB.

The company had no complaints on file with the BBB.

However, the BBB provided a report from the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), which said the firm was fined by the state of Virginia in 1994 for failing to file an audited financial statement for a second year.

Without admitting or denying anything, "the firm agreed to refrain from any conduct which constitutes a violation of (the Virginia Securities Act) as long as it is registered and to pay a penalty of $500," the report said.

Certain types of disciplinary information on NASD member firms and individuals are available to the public. Write to National Association of Securities Dealers, 12390 Piccard Dr., Rockville, MD 20850, phone (800) 289-9999.





Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
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