Charter school commission criticized for ‘erroneous’ rejections of new applicants

The commission in charge of approving new charters is facing criticism for its handling of new school applications

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At a time when demand for charter schools are on the rise, the agency that regulates charter schools has come under harsh criticism for denying applications from new schools.

The state Board of Education has ordered the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission to conduct new reviews of applications submitted by the Maui Academy for Arts and Sciences and the Lima No’eau Career Academy on Oahu.

The BOE said commission staffers should not have rejected the schools’ applications because their preliminary forms were incomplete.

“The commission’s staff based their decision on an arbitrary and capricious interpretation,” wrote BOE Chairperson Catherine Payne.

“This arbitrary and capricious interpretation was clearly erroneous ... and an abuse.”

Rana Boone, co-founder of the Maui Academy for Arts and Sciences, said she and her sister spent several years working on the application process.

“I was absolutely stunned. The reason was so shocking,” she said.

“I cannot believe the time and energy and money and investment we put into this preparing. And to not get a shot at the actual application ... was incredibly devastating.”

Trevor Ozawa, who represents the Maui Academy and the Lima No’eau Career Academy, said nine other applicants were rejected by commission this year for similar reasons. He said the BOE decision also gives them new life.

“It’s infuriating that an agency won’t follow it’s own rules," Ozawa said.

The commission declined comment but will take up the issue at meeting on Thursday.

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