BOE chairman answers criticism - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

BOE chairman answers criticism

Garrett Toguchi Garrett Toguchi
Donna Ikeda Donna Ikeda
Herbert Watanabe Herbert Watanabe
Breene Harimoto Breene Harimoto

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi was criticized by fellow board members Thursday who claim he has not kept them in the loop on important issues.

Board member and former chairman Breene Harimoto asked Toguchi to step down as chairman.

"I believe that it is not in the best interest of this board and our public education system for Garrett Toguchi to continue serving as chairman. I call for his resignation," Harimoto said during Thursday's board meeting.

"I don't have any plans to step down," Toguchi told Hawaii News Now. "I was just voted in last month by a majority of the members. I think if the board as a whole feels that I should not be chair, they have the flexibility to make that decision by taking another vote."

Harimoto is one of four voting members of the board who spoke out against Toguchi.

They are upset with the way he handled the resignation of former superintendent Pat Hamamoto.

Hamamoto gave Toguchi a letter of resignation of Monday, December 28. But he did not tell everyone on the board she was resigning until she submitted the official paperwork Thursday, December 31st. By then the news had leaked.

"I was shocked to learn about it on the six o'clock evening news, this is unethical if not illegal and it is just plain wrong," said board member Donna Ikeda.

"It is very embarrassing when you walk around town and people ask you what's going on I don't know I found out on . I found out about it by reading the paper ion news year's day," said board member Herbert Watanabe.

Toguchi defended his decision not to tell the full of the board about Hamamoto's resignation letter. He said in the past year Hamamoto had twice given him letters of resignation only to reconsider and stay on the job. When he got her latest letter he was hoping she would change her mind again, and thought she would certainly leave if news of her letter became public. 

"Given our past experience there was good reason to believe Pat would honor her decision to stay until 2011 or for at least another three to six months giving us some time to plan," Toguchi said.

Toguchi's handling of Hamamoto's resignation is not the only thing that upset some of his fellow board members. They are also unhappy they are not consulted regularly on negotiations to resolve the furlough Friday dispute.

Toguchi told Hawaii News Now the full board has given power to negotiate the furlough Friday issue to two specific members and including the full board on those talks would only slow things down.

"We have to move forward for the sake of improving our education system and surviving in this tough financial situation and the kind of distractions we had tonight isn't going to help any," Toguchi said.

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