The head of the Native Hawaiian Education Council and an insurance company executive are among five nominees being considered for positions on the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission.

There are two empty seats on the commission and two commissioners whose terms end in June. The commission, created by lawmakers in 2012 to improve financial and academic oversight of charter schools, has come under increasing fire recently from charter school leaders who complain they are being over-regulated. Lawmakers former the commission to hold charter schools accountable in the wake of several scandals.

Lawmakers created the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission in 2012 to oversee broad changes to school oversight.
Lawmakers created the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission in 2012 to oversee broad changes to school oversight. Screenshot / Hawaii Public Charter School Commission website

The Board of Education, which oversees the commission, formed an investigative committee earlier this year to look into complaints from school leaders and decide if a special review of the commission’s performance is warranted.

Although the board has yet to decide whether to conduct a special review, it is expected to vote next week — at the same meeting where it will name the new charter commissioners — on the process for conducting such a review, if it is needed.

New Nomination Process

In the past, it has been up to the board chair to nominate commissioners for confirmation by the full board. This year, after complaints that the commission is too inaccessible to charter leaders, the board voted to allow anyone to submit an application.

In an effort to solicit more applicants, Board of Education Chair Lance Mizumoto wrote a new policy keeping the names of the nominees private until they become finalists and agree to have their name become public.

In order to discuss the nominations at public meetings, the board decided to use numbers for the nominees in place of their names — a process that Brian Black, executive director of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, told Civil Beat was unusual.

“They are not required to keep that information private; and they certainly could have spoken to the applicants beforehand and gotten permission to use their names, rather than having a process that says the information has to be private,” Black said last month.

The Board discussed the five nominees by number at the April 19 meeting, and then posted the names of the finalists in the agenda for the upcoming May 5 meeting.

Charter Commission Chair Catherine Payne nominated current commissioners Kalehua Krug and Mitchell D’Olier to serve second terms when their current appointments expire at the end of June.

Three other people submitted applications on their own:

  • Sylvia Hussey, executive director of the Native Hawaiian Education Council and a former vice president of administration at Kamehameha Schools.
  • Nolan Kawano, president of the insurance company IC International, and president of the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation.
  • John Kim, a former teacher and school administrator and current governing board chair of the Hawaii Technology Academy charter school.

Read the resumes and bios of all five nominees here.

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