Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023|
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The state Board of Education is looking for a new head of schools, opting not to renew current Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi’s contract.
Matayoshi, a Hilo native, has had the top state Department of Education role since 2010. Her contract was renewed in 2014 for a three-year term.
Instead of renewing again, however, the BOE on Tuesday during its regular meeting approved forming a committee to conduct a search in the coming months to replace her.
The new appointee would start July 1, a day after Matayoshi’s contract ends.
Board members were vague on details but said Hawaii’s public education system is in a period of “transition.” For example, the state currently is working to implement a new federal education law called the Every Student Succeeds Act.
BOE Vice Chairman Brian De Lima said during the meeting he wanted to make clear Matayoshi was not “being terminated.”
“She has done an extraordinary job over the years,” De Lima said. “… There are some views of (board) members who believe that we are at a point in our state where public education needs to move and transition to a different point of emphasis.”
The decision garnered mixed feedback from testifiers Tuesday.
Some said it was poorly timed when the department is in the process of revising its joint strategic plan, along with implementing ESSA.
The board gave Matayoshi a positive overall annual performance evaluation last month, other testifiers noted.
Many DOE employees also are surprised, department spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz told The Garden Island newspaper last week. Dela Cruz said this is the first time the BOE did not indicate an extension since Matayoshi’s 2014 contract renewal.
The DOE is “mystified by what’s happening,” Dela Cruz is quoted as telling the Kauai newspaper, but the decision is the board’s “prerogative.”
“Our understanding is that (Matayoshi) wants to continue to serve to Hawaii’s keiki,” Dela Cruz said. “… The board sets the policy and direction of the department, so there will be many paying close attention for the next couple of months.”
Matayoshi’s contract also was contentious in 2014. It was renewed amid results from a survey that showed the majority of Hawaii public school principals were unhappy with her leadership.
Email Kirsten Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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