State interviews for
director of charter schools

A state Board of Education committee interviewed a former deputy state attorney general yesterday for the new position of executive director for the state's 26 charter schools.

State of Hawaii Dewey Kim was interviewed in a two-hour executive session of the committee of the whole on public libraries and New Century charter schools. He was not identified when the committee returned to a public session.

Board Chairman Breene Harimoto said committee members agreed not to officially release the candidate's name until the Jan. 8 board meeting. Harimoto said the matter will be on the agenda, but he would not say whether the committee will recommend Kim's appointment.

The board had balked at considering the appointment because a screening committee from the Hawaii Charter School Network endorsed only one of the seven candidates it interviewed.

Kim was one of 23 applicants for the position created by the 2003 state Legislature to head an agency to oversee charter schools, which are designed to provide alternatives to conventional public schools.

When the charter schools recommended Kim on Sept. 30, the board insisted that three candidates' names should be presented.

Former board Chairman Herb Watanabe referred the matter to the state attorney general.

"They insisted that we come up with more than one, but the law does not require that," Donna Estomago, president of the Charter School Network, said last night. "He was the unanimous choice of the charter schools statewide."

She said Kim's "knowledge of the system impressed everyone."

Kim served as legal adviser to the Board of Education during his 17 years with the Department of the Attorney General. In recent years he headed the state Medicaid Investigation Division. He is now in private law practice.

He declined to discuss his candidacy last night.


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