BOE to name charter schools director
Hawaii's Board of Education expects to announce the interim executive director for the state Charter School Administrative Office today.
The board delayed a final decision yesterday to gather and verify information related to the position, board Chairman Randall Yee said.
"We anticipate that hopefully by (today) we will have that (information) and be able to make an announcement," Yee said. "We need to move quickly in the appointment of an interim director."
In an executive session, board members discussed four nominees, including the man who was fired by the board two weeks ago, Jim Shon. The charter schools community also nominated Gene Zarro, Maunalei Love and Bob Roberts.
The executive director position advocates for the 27 charter schools in Hawaii while overseeing them for the Board of Education. Many in the charter schools community were angered by the BOE's dismissal of Shon and are trying to get him back.
Susie Leigh Osborne, director of Kua o Ka La charter school on the Big Island, flew to Honolulu with a student to give testimony to the BOE.
"For some inconceivable reason, the Board of Education continues to be a hostile board toward charter schools," Osborne said. "Are these not public school children?"
Three other people gave public testimony questioning the board's firing of Shon.
"Is my education being affected by power issues and politics?" Melani Dasalla-Anderson, a ninth-grader at Kua o Ka La charter school, asked the board.
Yee said he could not disclose the reasons for terminating Shon because of employee privacy laws.
Fred Birkett, Lanikai charter school principal, told the board, "We need leadership so that we can continue being successful as public charter schools."
After the meeting, board member Cec Heftel said, "Charter schools are performing so well that no matter who is the director, they're going to succeed."
John Thatcher, president of Hawaii Charter Schools Network, said he was unhappy with the board's delay. The network is an advocacy group of charter school principals and administration.
"We're looking for stability in the office. We pay for this office. Not one penny comes from the Board of Education or Department of Education," he said.
Some members of the board said privately that Shon angered the board by getting too involved with drawing up legislative changes this year that affected not only charter schools, but also his own power and position.
In a news release, Shon said the executive director position is caught between two worlds, serving as the accountability arm of the board and as the advocate for the charter schools. Roy Takumi, House Education Committee chairman, said, "Clearly, something needs to be tweaked. It really calls for almost two positions."
Reporter Dan Martin contributed to this report.