A state Senate committee on Monday approved all five of Gov. David Ige’s nominees to the Board of Education.

Correction: an earlier version of the story said the governor selected a Board of Education chairperson. The governor has not yet selected a chairperson.  

The nominees will now go to the full Senate for a final vote. If approved, the nominees will serve on the board for the next three years.

The 11-member panel is responsible for creating policies across the public school system and public libraries. The board appoints the superintendent of the state Department of Education, the state librarian and members of the State Public Charter School Commission.

Department of Education Board Chair Catherine Payne during press conference on pay raises for speical needs teachers.
Board of Education Chair Catherine Payne will step down when her term ends at the end of June. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019

The board has nine voting members, one Hawaii State Student Council representative and one military representative.

The Senate Education Committee approved incumbents Damien “Kaimana” Barcarse and Bruce Voss for another three-year term, along with newcomers Nicole McClellan, Lauren Moriarty and Ken Kuraya.

The BOE has faced criticism in recent months for taking so long to choose a new DOE superintendent to replace Christina Kishimoto, who stepped down after her term ended on July 30 amid criticism over her handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Keith Hayashi has since served as interim superintendent of Hawaii’s 160,000-student single-district public school system.

If confirmed, Kuraya, who has been a teacher and administrator with the DOE for 40 years, will replace Catherine Payne, who will step down as chairwoman when her term ends on June 30.

Payne has served on the board since July 2018, and her term was supposed to end on July 1 last year but was extended for a year.

Ken Kuraya
Ken Kuraya will replace BOE Chair Catherine Payne. Governor's Office

Barcarse, the West Hawaii regional director for Kamehameha Schools, has served on the board since July 2019. He’s also a DJ and program producer of Alana I Kai Hikina, a radio show that broadcasts in the Hawaiian language.

Voss, a former reporter, also was nominated for a second term. He is a lawyer specializing in business, real estate and employment law and litigation.

Newcomer McClellan would replace board member Kenneth Uemura, whose term ends on June 30.

She’s the director of business development and community relations at Shriners Children’s Hawaii and was previously a spokeswoman at The Queen’s Health Systems.

Current board member Lyla Berg decided to step down on May 5 so Moriarty would replace her.

Moriarty is a former U.S. ambassador at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, career diplomat and dean of academics at the Daniel K. Inouye Asian-Pacific Center for Security Studies.

We’re here to help Hawaii vote.

Our staff has spent months preparing for this election season. Now it’s your turn to vote on the leaders who will impact our community for years to come.

If you’ve relied on our daily analysis and reporting, Candidate Q&As, free events and online resources, please consider making a donation to your local nonprofit newsroom.

Every contribution, however big or small, powers our journalism.

About the Author