The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation has decided to pull its $50,500 donation for Hawaii’s search for a school superintendent out of concerns that the process is rigged in favor of Darrel Galera.

The money was supposed to be used by the Board of Education to hire a search firm to find an experienced candidate.

Galeria is a former principal who was appointed to the Board of Education by Gov. David Ige last fall and has been leading a special team organized by the governor to address the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

Darrel Galera, left, was sworn in as a Board of Education member by Gov. David Ige last fall. Now Galera has resigned to seek the superintendent post. Courtesy: Governor's Office

Galera resigned from his board position Monday to apply for the superintendent job. The decision sparked education observers to speculate he may have an advantage over other candidates due to his relationship with Ige.

That’s worrisome to Terrence George, president and chief executive officer of the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation, who said Thursday that the foundation has informed the Board of Education that it is suspending its grant.

“We have intended to support the search process and we hope that we can restore integrity to the process,” George said, adding that he is hopeful a solution will be found to do so. “What that solution would be, I don’t know.”

Patricia Bergin, a Board of Education member who is part of a group conducting the search, said in a statement Tuesday that the committee “is committed to continuing to move forward with an open and transparent process.”

“While we are encouraged that a candidate like Mr. Galera, with his wealth of experience, would be interested in applying for the superintendent position, we know that there are many qualified candidates out there, and we hope that they are encouraged to consider applying,” she said. “Mr. Galera will have to go through the same screening process as all other applicants, and every applicant will be considered on an equal playing field.”

Ige said at a press conference Thursday prior to the Castle announcement that he was surprised by Galera’s resignation and wasn’t aware that he was going to apply.

“I hope that many people will apply, and I do trust that the board will do its responsibility to select the best candidate for the job,” he said.

And on Thursday after the announcement, Board Chair Lance Mizumoto issued this statement:

“We appreciate the support of the Castle Foundation (and) are hopeful that the situation can be resolved so they can continue their support of the search for the Superintendent.”

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