The public charter school in Wahiawa will be under more stringent financial and enrollment oversight.

Kamalani Academy Charter School in Wahiawa on Oahu will survive another two years after agreeing to replace its governing board and improve student record-keeping.

The reversal comes after the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission voted in February not to extend the school’s contract due to an unauthorized online learning program and issues with student record-keeping dating back to 2021.

The public charter school successfully appealed the decision to the Board of Education, which ruled the commission had inadequately specified what ongoing problems led to the non-renewal decision.

Kamalani Academy charter school located in Wahiawa. Grade levels are from kindergarten thru 8th grade..
Kamalani Academy charter school had been due to close in June but will stay open for the next two years under a new contract. (/Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

Kamalani Academy signed a new two-year contract with the commission in May, with stipulations for significant financial and enrollment oversight and an evaluation of the school director.

As part of the agreement, the school’s governing board must be dissolved and reformed, although as of Thursday the commission had not received any applications to start the reconstitution process. Until a new quorum of board members can be assembled, the old board will continue to oversee the school.

Kamalani Academy will be required to submit monthly financial statements to the commission and demonstrate a more effective student record-keeping system as part of the contract.

The Board of Education did not make anyone available to comment. The Charter School Commission referred to the general meeting minutes from Thursday but did not elaborate further.

The school’s principal, Amanda Fung, resigned effective Saturday, and the interim director will be Kawena Martinez, according to the commission. Kamalani Academy’s press contact, Miguel Gonzalez, said the resignation was unrelated to the board’s reconstitution.

Justine Shively, who had two children attend the school over the last two and a half years, said parents are excited about the changes and happy “the school can stay open for the kids.”

Her children attended a rally to save the school when it appealed the commission’s decision. She said she enrolled her children in the charter school for the small class sizes and so they could learn more about Native Hawaiian culture.

Kamalani Academy charter school located in Wahiawa. Grade levels are from kindergarten thru 8th grade..
The new contract for Kamalani Academy charter school is for two years, rather than the five years offered to 35 other charter schools. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

Shively said she believed the school needs oversight and the board has communicated to parents that it is making changes and will revisit the contract in 2025.

Kamalani Academy is a Na Mea Hawaii Arts Integration school that opened in 2017 with an arts-focused curriculum. It serves roughly 150 students.

The school came under scrutiny in 2021 with a Notice of Concern over student roll call irregularities when the school implemented an unapproved online program that added 169 students that could not be fully accounted for. The commission subsequently ordered 183 students be struck from the official roll.

The new contract is an extension through 2023 to 2025, shorter than the five-year contracts offered to 35 other charter schools in the state.

Civil Beat’s education reporting is supported by a grant from Chamberlin Family Philanthropy.

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