A new election for Hawaii teachers union leadership posts is expected to go forward after a state Circuit Court judge denied a teacher’s request for a temporary restraining order Friday.
High school instructor Corey Rosenlee had sought the restraining order, claiming he and running mates Justin Hughey and Amy Perruso already won a properly held Hawaii State Teachers Association election. Rosenlee claimed the union’s Board of Directors violated union bylaws when it voted 21-8 earlier this month to toss out the first round of election results because of “voting irregularities.”
According to Rosenlee’s lawyers, Friday’s ruling was not on the merits of the case, but whether the court has jurisdiction in the matter.
Corey Rosenlee claims he rightfully won the recent union election, but failed to convince a judge to stop a new election.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
“We are disappointed in today’s result, but the decision was very limited,” attorney David Rosen, said. “The court simply said it was concerned about whether it had jurisdiction and so at this time it couldn’t grant the motion.”
Rosenlee’s complaint against the HSTA board is still going forward, Rosen said. Lawyers for the union board have about two weeks to respond to the claims.
In a written statement, current President Wil Okabe said the HSTA was pleased with the court’s decision, which “allows HSTA to continue to move forward with the re-vote on June 2 and ensure a fair election process that will allow all of our members an opportunity to vote.”
Candidates on both sides are now focused on rallying teachers to turn out for the election. Roughly 26 percent of the state’s teachers participated in the first round of voting, which was conducted by electronic and mail balloting.
“Given all the publicity that this has had, everybody is going to be watching what the teachers are going to do,” said current HSTA Vice President Joan Lewis, who is running against Rosenlee for president. “I am hoping that our teachers will take this as an opportunity to send a message about the importance of voting rights in every election by coming out and voting.”
Teachers are scheduled to vote in person at designated school sites from 3 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday. The list of voting sites is available here.
The deadline to call and request an absentee ballot has already passed. Teachers can visit the HSTA office in-person until 4 p.m. Monday to obtain an absentee ballot. Absentee ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday.
Rosenlee ran for president against Lewis in the April election. Hughey ran for vice president and Perruso for secretary-treasurer.
Perruso’s opponent for secretary-treasurer, 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. Tui asked in early May to withdraw from the race, and is no longer on the ballot.
Rosenlee said he is confident that teachers will turn out for him next week.
“I believe that teachers want the opportunity to vote,” Rosenlee said. “Teachers I have talked to are angry, and they want the opportunity to show that the first election was correct.”
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