BOE told to disclose votes that led to firing
The Board of Education should "immediately disclose" which of its members voted to oust James Shon as executive director of the Charter School Administrative Office in a meeting last month, a state office said yesterday.
The request, by the Office of Information Practices, came three days after it issued an opinion instructing the board to reveal "the motions made and the votes cast by individual members" in its Sept. 7 executive meeting.
The board was originally given until Wednesday to release the information, but it didn't comply, saying the Attorney General's Office was reviewing the opinion to make sure Shon's privacy rights would be protected.
Right-to-know advocates fear the board will wait until after Tuesday's election to act, preventing voters from knowing which members supported or opposed Shon's oversight of the state's 27 charter schools.
"The question is, who at that meeting voted to fire him?" said Oahu resident and blogger Larry Geller, one of two people requesting copies of the minutes. "It would influence my vote."
The board dismissed Shon in a closed-door session after conducting an annual review of his performance. No official reason has been given for the firing. Attorney General Mark Bennett said he feels some of the sections of the minutes that OIP wants disclosed could be "privileged material."
State law requires agencies to make records available whenever OIP decides they should be public, said Leslie Kondo, the office's director. Agencies usually have a week to prepare the documents, but Kondo said the board was given only two days after the opinion was issued so that "people can exercise their right at the ballot box."
"We feel the release should be timely," he said. "People should have the right to use that information in how they vote on Nov. 7. It's all part of the process."
Shon said yesterday he doesn't oppose having the votes and reasons for the firing publicized, but warned that putting out too many details could damage the already unstable relationship between the board and the charter schools community.
"I'm as curious as any other person as to what went on," he said. "(But) I can just imagine some of the negativity that was in that kind of a meeting. I'd like to move on."
A number of board members yesterday reserved comment on the issue, but member Paul Vierling said the board should conform with public records laws.
"We should play fair, just like everybody else is expected to play fair," he said.