Even though Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi has been on the job since the Hawaii State Board of Education hired her last September, her contract was not finalized until June.

The department released a copy to Civil Beat on Wednesday.

The then-elected Board of Education interviewed only Matayoshi, then the interim superintendent, from a candidate pool of 24. Then in what appeared to be a mysteriously sudden decision, unanimously approved her appointment to lead the state’s public school system.

But the board never put in place a contract with her. Former Board of Education Chairman Garrett Toguchi told Civil Beat that the board discussed it, and even went over drafts of a contract with Matayoshi in executive sessions, but ultimately agreed it wasn’t necessary because the terms of her employment had already been made public in the vote to appoint her, or were contained in state law and board bylaws.

“The law is already written with a lot of protections about wrongful termination,” Toguchi said. “When we hired her, the motion was to appoint her to a term of four years. Because that was clear, and the salary amount of $150,000 was stated, it seemed unnecessary to have a contract.”

But one of the first things the new appointed board did when it took office in April was to address the superintendent’s terms of employment.

“That never got finalized, and we want to make sure our superintendent is taken care of,” Chairman Don Horner explained.

It was discussed behind closed doors in executive sessions, but her contract was signed on June 21 this year.

There aren’t any huge surprises, but some things worth knowing:

  • Matayoshi is paid $150,000 per year. While higher than the [national average for school district superintendents ($125,000), it is lower than the salaries for the superintendents of many large school districts, and also lower than the salaries for many state superintendents, including Alabama ($197,000).

  • Her (now three-year) contract ends June 30, 2014, unless the board decides to terminate her sooner.

  • The superintendent’s job description is basically to follow the law.

  • In addition to periodic evaluations on an as-needed basis, the board will hold an annual evaluation of Matayoshi’s performance.

  • If her employment ends for any reason other than her own resignation, the board is obligated to pay her salary in a lump sum for the remainder of that year only.

  • If the board were to vote to remove her from office, they would have to provide her with written reasons for the firing.

  • Things that can justify firing the superintendent include conviction of a felony and “willful failure” to perform duties, meet goals of the department or inform the board of significant material in a timely manner.

Read the full contract:

If you want to reference the contract in the future, we are also posting it on our topic page for Matayoshi here.

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