State briefs for January 22

1-year contract extension for Hawaii schools superintendent

HONOLULU — The superintendent of Hawaii’s statewide public school district is getting a one-year contract extension.

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The school board voted publicly Thursday to extend Christina Kishimoto’s contract to July 2021. The board had been criticized for having done so behind closed doors last month.

A public vote was held after concern that the decision should not have been made in executive session. The board rated Kishimoto’s midyear performance as “effective” and decided to extend her contract during a special meeting on Dec. 21.

The board will reassess her performance during the final evaluation near the end of the school year, according to her midyear assessment posted online.

Her contract began in 2017. Kishimoto previously was superintendent of schools in Gilbert, Arizona, and Hartford, Connecticut. She earns $240,000 a year. She was selected out of 92 applicants.

“I dearly love this superintendent, and I think she has been leading us in the appropriate direction,” said board member Maggie Cox. “I totally, 200 percent back this lady. I think she has done a wonderful job for us.”

Board member Nolan Kawano said Kishimoto is doing a great job but he doesn’t think contracts should be extended based on a midyear assessment.

Cheri Nakamura of the Hee Coalition, which advocates for educational equity, urged the board to consider how public schools are performing on measures such as chromic absenteeism when evaluating the superintendent in the future.

Hawaii Supreme Court rejects appeal over abandoned kittens

HONOLULU — The Hawaii State Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a woman ordered to pay a fine for abandoning kittens at a park.

Susan Owen must pay $150.

Owen took her case to the state’s high court after an appeals court upheld a judge’s guilty verdict against her.

In 2016, state lawmakers enacted a pet animal desertion law. The crime is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and a year in jail.

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Owen told the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals the kittens were not pets because they were not domesticated. She said she only had them for two days and never intended to keep them.

The state Supreme Court refused to hear her appeal last week.

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