BOE announces plans to search for new schools superintendent

BOE announces plans to search for new schools superintendent
Published: Oct. 26, 2016 at 9:06 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 27, 2016 at 7:09 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kathryn Matayoshi's tenure as the state schools superintendent appears to be coming to a close.

In a news release Wednesday, the BOE said it will discuss a superintendent search at its Nov. 1 meeting. The board said it plans to form a committee to "determine the process and timeline for the search as well as the composition of the group performing the search."

Matayoshi's contract ends on June 30, 2017.

The decision comes amid mounting tension between the superintendent and Gov. David Ige's administration. Matayoshi has not said she's stepping down, but has butted heads in recent months with the governor.

"This is an ideal time to transition to new leadership that will help the DOE continue its efforts to reduce the achievement gap and prioritize achievement for all students," BOE Chairman Lance Mizumoto said, in a news release.

He said the board hopes to have a new superintendent in place by July 1, 2017.

In a statement issued Thursday, Ige said Matayoshi has "ably guided Hawaii's public education system during her tenure."

He added, "We have an opportunity to move to a more school-initiated, innovative approach to education."

Matayoshi has been at the helm of Hawaii's public schools since 2010, overseeing implementation of a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant, the new, tougher Common Core standards and a controversial performance-based teacher evaluation system.

Despite early missteps, Hawaii has seen progress on key education reforms under Matayoshi's leadership and has been applauded by the U.S. Department of Education for its work.

But Matayoshi has also attracted criticism, including for the state's handling of hot classrooms last summer and for a perceived top-down style of leadership. And the state Education Department has also struggled to bolster achievement among economically-disadvantaged students and other at-risk populations.

"She's done a great job over the many years," said Ray L'Heureux, of the Education Institute of Hawaii. "But the citizens of Hawaii put and changed the constitution of the state a few years back that put the governor in charge of the delivery of education."

L'Heureux is referring to the constitutional amendment in 2010 that moved Hawaii from an elected to a governor-appointed Board of Education.

That could have placed her job in jeopardy. Last May, Ige did not invite her to be part of the team coming up with new requirements under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind.

"And one of those things is to move away from bubble tests and teach actually to the whole child, to move away from high stakes teacher evaluations to actually supporting our teachers," said Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee.

Just last month, the superintendent earned high marks on her annual job evaluation. In announcing the evaluation, Mizumoto said the superintendent and her team "sets high expectations for the department, and has continued to collaborate with the board, schools and community and advancing these goals."

Matayoshi is in Washington D.C. and was unavailable for comment. However, DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said, "Superintendent Matayoshi has a continued desire to serve Hawaii's keiki. While she is willing to continue to serve as the superintendent, she respects the role and responsibility of the board to make appointments."

State Rep. Takashi Ohno, a Democrat who is vice chairman of the House Education Committee, called Matayoshi a "stalwart leader for the kids of Hawaii." He added, "I respect the process of the Board of Education to follow up on their constitutional duties."

Hawaii has the 10th-largest public school system in the nation, with about 187,000 students and 256 schools statewide.

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