Interim schools Superintendent Keith Hayashi selected for the permanent job

The Board of Education has selected interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi Thursday to become the next superintendent of Hawaii’s public schools.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 7:38 AM HST|Updated: May. 20, 2022 at 10:13 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After hours of deliberation and testimony, the Board of Education has selected interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi Thursday to become the next superintendent of Hawaii’s public schools.

“I look forward to working together with the board and creating a robust strategic plan to help move schools forward working with everyone and pledge commitment to education dialogue in support of students,” Hayashi said.

“This means a great deal I’m honored to have opportunity to lead schools public schools in Hawaii. I know all of us together will make a difference in the lives of our students.”

The board moved forward with the motion to select Hayashi with only one member voting in opposition.

The Board of Education’s Chair, Catherine Payne said they were looking for a candidate that could heal the school system and bring the community and stakeholders together.

She adds that they wanted a candidate who had an understanding of the Hawaiian culture and could help transition the school system out of the pandemic.

“His work at Waipahu High School has really touched a lot of students who were struggling and help them to move forward into successful lives,” said Payne. “So, looking at how that might be able to be applied throughout our system is really important.”

Hayashi said in the next month or two, he wants to focus on engaging the community and stakeholder in creating a strategic plan.

“I think it’s important that we honor the voices of everyone in our community and start that process going, it will take some time for us to do that,” said Hayashi.

Leading up to the decision, testimony got heated as the board twice went into recess so that shouting testifiers could be removed or order could be restored. And deputy sheriffs were called in after protesters refused to leave the room and continued shouting.

At one point, people attending the meeting shouted that board members were “child abusers.”

The meeting started Thursday morning with the three finalists for the position asked to speak to the board and answer questions.

The meeting then went to a public testimony portion.

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The disruptions come following gubernatorial candidate B.J. Penn’s declaration at a recent BOE meeting that he would fire the interim superintendent and Board of Education members because of anger over masking rules and other pandemic policies.

The three finalists for the position were:

  • Darrel Galera, a leadership consultant for the Hawaii Center for Instructional Leadership. Galera is the former Moanalua High School principal and has previously served on the BOE as a deputy district superintendent for Leeward Oahu.
  • Keith Hayashi, the current interim superintendent, a post he held during the search for the state’s last superintendent, Christina Kishimoto. Hayashi is former Waipahu High principal and Pearl City/Waipahu complex area superintendent.
  • And Caprice Young, the president of the Education Growth Group in Los Angeles. Young has served as the superintendent and CEO of several charter school systems, in addition to other leadership roles in budget and infrastructure.

As the former Waipahu High School principal, Hayashi was honored for developing programs on student’s career and college goals. As interim superintendent, he’s been criticized for insisting on keeping schools open and keeping indoor masking.

“We started to open those lines of communication,” Hayashi told the board.

“The pandemic did pose some challenges to that. We did our best to help ensure that the communication is flowing.”

Meanwhile, Young acknowledged that she’s got a lot to learn from the community about what’s right and wrong with the system, and during the interview took moments to show her lighter side.

“I’d like to take just a quick second before I totally dive in to just lower my mask for a second so you can see that I’m smiling,” Young said.

She has led the second largest school district in the nation and has 35 years of experience.

Young also added that her parents live on Oahu.

During Galera’s interview, he said that statistics show only 30% of teachers are engaged and that new priorities would lead to a 61% decrease in teachers leaving.

“Regardless of any concepts of school empowerment, as a leader what we need to do is we need to meet these needs that people have in the midst of a crisis,” Galera said.

The finalists were interviewed by a search committee composed of four Board of Education members and 12 other education stakeholders.

This story will be updated.

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