Three candidates running against current union leaders for leadership positions within the teachers union are breaking their silence about the results of the recent contested election, and threatening legal action against the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
Corey Rosenlee, Justin Hughey and Amy Perruso said in a press release Thursday that they won the race for union president, vice president and secretary-treasurer during a recent election and runoff election, and plan to ask the courts to intercede on their behalf.
A new union election is currently scheduled June 2, after the HSTA Board voted to toss out the earlier results.
Corey Rosenlee, shown here in August 2013, is a teacher at Campbell High School.
According to the release, the union’s elections committee certified Rosenlee and Perruso as winners in the president and secretary-treasurer races around May 2, before calling for a runoff for the spot of vice president. Rosenlee ran against current union Vice President Joan Lewis. Perruso’s opponent in the secretary-treasurer election, Osa Tui Jr., campaigned along with Lewis and vice presidential candidate (and current secretary-treasurer) Colleen Pasco. A third candidate for vice president, Paul Daugherty, ran independently.
The HSTA Board voted 21-8 last Saturday — after receiving the results of the runoff — to toss out the ballots because of voting irregularities and hold a new election. Until Thursday, candidates had declined to reveal the voting tallies because of a union policy against releasing election results until they are certified by the board.
According to the release, Hughey garnered the most votes in the vice-president runoff.
On Monday, current union President Wil Okabe told members that there had been a number of irregularities, including teachers reporting missing ballots and mistakes made by the company hired to run the election.
“This decision was not taken lightly and came after many long hours of deliberation and discussion, including legal advice as to all options to address concerns brought to Board members over the last few weeks from teachers across the state,” Okabe said in an email to members.
Former HSTA Executive Director Joan Husted said Sunday she thought it was unlikely that the board would publicly disclose what the election irregularities were, but that such decisions were often made in the interest of not impacting a re-election.
But Rosenlee — who was present at the board meeting and voted in favor of certifying the election — and his running mates argue that the “only verified claim” involved complaints from approximately a dozen teachers who said they did not receive a ballot.
“In each instance, it was acknowledged that HSTA staff had promptly rectified the situation by providing a ballot and the member was able to cast a vote,” the release states.
“Despite being requested to do so, HSTA has refused to release any information regarding any of these allegations,” the release states. “The manner in which these concerns about the election were raised and considered violated the HSTA’s Bylaws.”
The candidates are planning to take legal action against the HSTA next week to block the union from holding a new election and invalidate the board’s vote to toss out the election results, “thereby compelling the HSTA to accept the results of the election that was conducted,” the release states.
A union spokesperson was not immediately available to respond to the challengers’ press release.
Historically turnout is low for HSTA elections, with about 20 percent of the union’s 13,500 members voting in the last election. In the most recent election, 26 percent of eligible members voted, according to the release.
Unlike the first two elections, teachers will be asked to cast their ballots in person in the June 2 election at designated school sites, unless they request an absentee ballot by May 26.
REPORTING ON HAWAII’S BIGGEST ISSUES
A good reason not to give
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