A year into pandemic, unions for teachers, principals want DOE superintendent gone

Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 6:20 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Criticism of Hawaii’s schools superintendent is coming from multiple directions ahead of her contract expiring.

Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said the union’s board of directors voted unanimously to ask that Kishimoto’s contract not be renewed by the Board of Education.

“There’s been a lot of frustration,” Rosenlee said during a news conference Tuesday.

Kelcy Koga, representing principals and other educators in Unit 6 of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, also said it’s time for a change.

“There comes a time when someone is not as effective as when they first started, and it is that time,” said Koga.

Kishimoto’s contract ends in July. She was originally given a three-year deal, but that was extended an additional year.

She took on the role in 2017, replacing Kathryn Matayoshi. Kishimoto’s annual salary started at $240,000.

Poor communication is among the most common complaints against Kishimoto.

She publicly announced last week Monday that schools would not reopen until the summer. But this week, Kishimoto changed that and said the new goal was to open all elementary schools by the end of the month.

School leaders said they needed more notice to prepare.

Also this week, the DOE said in-person graduation ceremonies could resume. That surprised school leaders who said they were not notified of the change in policy.

“A lot of the times we’ve heard large announcements and important announcements through media outlets or through social media,” Koga said, adding that announcements like that get students and parents excited but leave the administration wondering about the rules and needing guidance.

“It doesn’t surprise me given the kinds of concerns that the board has been hearing and what I’ve been hearing,” said Board of Education Chairwoman Catherine Payne.

The BOE’s Human Resources Committee will vote Thursday on whether to recommend a new contract for Kishimoto. Following that, the full board will vote on the matter.

Kishimoto declined an interview but said in a statement, “My focus right now is on safely reopening our schools.”

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