Thursday, November 18, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
St. Louis board trustees Margaret Oda and chairman
Walter Kirimitsu face the media after the board removed
Mario Pariante as school president last night.

St. Louis trustees
remove Pariante

The ouster of the school's
president had nothing to do
with athletics or football,
the board chairman says

By Mary Adamski


The St. Louis School board of trustees has removed the Rev. Mario Pariante as president of the 900-student Catholic boys school effective immediately.

Pariante "has not lived up to the standards of leadership and administrative skills as set by the board," said Margaret Oda, chairwoman of the board committee evaluating the president. Oda and trustees' chairman Walter Kirimitsu announced the decision last night after a four-hour board meeting in the 30th floor executive conference room of the First Hawaiian Bank Tower.

"Our decision had nothing to do with athletics or football," said Kirimitsu in response to reporters' questions about the apparent rift between Pariante, who has been president for 2 years, and the school's athletic director and football coach Cal Lee, who has led the team to 14 league championships and a national ranking among prep schools.

Pariante attended the meeting and had the opportunity to respond to the board. He could not be reached for comment last night. Kirimitsu said "he was not pleased."

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
The media had a long wait until 9:45 p.m. at First
Hawaiian Bank Tower before St. Louis board trustees
Margaret Oda and Walter Kirimitsu showed
up to take questions.

Although Pariante's contract runs through June 30, 2000, he will be released now and paid the remainder of his $75,000 salary, Kirimitsu said. No additional compensation will be paid, he said.

"The evaluation committee was looking at the remaining six months, whether the 2 years of performance indicated any area of improvement and whether there is a probability of improvement. It was strictly a business decision to terminate him immediately," he said.

The 45-year-old Marianist priest, who has been a teacher and administrator in Catholic schools in New York and California, was selected by the board after serving as director of campus ministry at Chaminade University for six years. In an earlier Star-Bulletin interview, he pointed to initiatives he has taken to strengthen the 153-year-old school academically.

Kirimitsu said "the board concurred on more emphasis on academics.

"As far as the football program, I believe the trustees believe the program has developed very well, and the emphasis on academics should be more heavily emphasized so in that both athletics and academics, students can excel."

Trustee Walter K. Tagawa said last night's decision was difficult but that the board was not split on the issue.

Tagawa said today the decision was made through a very democratic process, and not on any knee-jerk reactions about a single incident.

He said the decision took a lot of time because trustees were very deliberate and discussed all the pros and cons. There are no hard feelings among trustees about the decision, he said.

"One was given all the opportunity in the world to express their concerns and their positions," said Tagawa, who called it a well-managed meeting.

Tagawa said the board began discussion about Pariante's contract 2 years ago during a previous evaluation.

Trustee Anthony R. Guerrero Jr. did not attend the meeting but supports the board action.

"I know it's a good decision," he said today. "I support the decision 100 percent."

Oda, a former district superintendent with Department of Education, said the evaluation committee has monitored Pariante's performance for two years and they felt he fell short in "leadership skills, work relationship with faculty and staff, and his ability in building teamwork among the members of the school.

"I think in general, one of the major areas is to be able to have his members to work collaboratively and to have the input of the faculty and staff in the decision-making." Oda declined to give examples.

Kirimitsu is legal counsel for the University of Hawaii and a 1958 St. Louis graduate.

Oda is one of four women on the board.

The chairman said 14 voting board members attended the meeting. Kirimitsu refused to say whether the vote was unanimous. The two spokesmen repeated three times in answer to questions that the decision had nothing to do with athletics and specifically football.

The trustees will ask St. Louis principal Burton Tomita to be acting administrator while a search committee seeks a replacement.

Board of trustees includes
15 St. Louis alumni

The St. Louis School board of trustees includes 14 alumni whose class years are indicated in parentheses. The trustees are:

Chairman Walter Kirimitsu ('58), vice chairwoman Joan Bickson, secretary Albert S.C. Chong ('44), treasurer Kent K. Tsukamoto ('71).

James S. Burns ('55), Frederic K.T. Chun ('38), Brother James Dods ('57), Brother Garry Morris, David Ezra ('65), Anthony R. Guerrero Jr. ('63), Ted Kawahigashi ('53), Wallace Miyahara ('50).

Margaret Y. Oda, Catherine Lagareta, Walter Tagawa ('47), Dr. Lawrence Tseu ('51), William Tsushima ('57), Col. Wendell Wong ('58), Harris W.S. Young ('51), Jacqueline "Jackie" Young.

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