Hamamoto resignation draws mixed reaction - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hamamoto resignation draws mixed reaction

Pat Hamamoto Pat Hamamoto
Sen. Fred Hemmings Sen. Fred Hemmings
Breene Harimoto Breene Harimoto

By Jim Mendoza

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -- When she spoke with reporters on Wednesday, Pat Hamamoto gave no indication she was quitting her post as Hawaii schools superintendent.

But her resignation letter was already in to the Board of Education. The short statement said it was a difficult decision but gave no reason for leaving.

"I was shocked. I didn't see this coming at all," board member Breene Harimoto said.

He calls Hamamoto the best schools superintendent Hawaii has ever had.

"How she garnered the business community together to support education I think was outstanding," he said.

But Senate minority leader Fred Hemmings called her resignation "overdue."

"I would give her a C+, B- for effort," he said.

Hemmings called Hamamoto a "pawn" in a machine that sells public education short while spending too much money with too little results.

"We have one of the most expensive per-student public education systems in the nation and our test scores still rank well below national averages," he said.

Hamamoto's departure comes at a stressful time with budget cuts and teacher furloughs.

Deputy superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi steps in as interim head.

"The deputy superintendent, certainly the assistant superintendents, the complex area superintendents are all great people. They know their jobs well," Harimoto said. "Things will keep moving."

It will be up the BOE to find Hamamoto's permanent successor.

Veteran board member Karen Knudsen said they have to move quickly.

But Hemmings said whoever is chosen inherits a sinking ship.

"The system's broken. The superintendent, no matter who it is, is not going to fix it," he said.

Hamamoto served nine years as schools superintendent. She ends her tenure ten months short of completing her contract.

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