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1996-2008 The Honolulu Star-Bulletin |
Vol. 13, Issue 250 - Saturday, September 6, 2008

Director of charter schools quits


For the fourth time in two years, the leadership of Hawaii's charter schools has changed hands.

Reshela DuPuis, who has overseen the state's 31 alternative schools since becoming executive director of the Charter School Administrative Office in December, resigned Aug. 28. She said she was asked to leave by the Charter School Review Panel.

DuPuis took the job in December, pledging to move beyond problems experienced by two of her predecessors: Jim Shon, who was fired, and Maunalei Love, who threatened to quit while serving on an interim basis.

Panel Chairman Alvin Parker declined to discuss DuPuis' departure, saying it was "a mutual decision."

The panel appointed Love, DuPuis' predecessor, to again serve as interim executive director.



Nine months into the job, Hawaii's charter school chief has resigned following a legislative session that led to a $1,000-per-pupil funding cut to the state's 31 alternative schools.

Reshela DuPuis, who became executive director of the Charter School Administrative Office in December, resigned Aug. 28. She said yesterday she was asked to leave by the Charter School Review Panel, but declined to provide details.

The review panel has appointed Maunalei Love, DuPuis' predecessor, to serve as interim executive director, said panel Chairman Alvin Parker.

The panel took away the power of approving and revoking charters, as well as choosing the top charter school official, from the Board of Education under a state law passed last year.

Parker also refused to speak about what led to DuPuis' resignation, calling it only "a mutual decision."

He said DuPuis will be paid through Dec. 31, when her $85,000 annual contract expires. Love will get a comparable salary on a monthly basis, Parker said, until the panel selects a permanent person for the job.

DuPuis' departure came two years after the school board fired then-Executive Director Jim Shon in a closed-door meeting. No reason was given for the dismissal of Shon, a former state legislator. The firing sparked protests among charter school leaders who considered him a champion for their movement.

He was replaced by Love on an interim basis. She had threatened to quit shortly before DuPuis took office in December, saying at the time she was frustrated at being unable to support charters through the review panel.

Love could not be reached for comment yesterday.

John Thatcher, director of Connections Public Charter School in Hilo, said DuPuis may have been targeted after lawmakers passed a budget that lowered per-student spending by about $1,000 from the previous year.

The $56.1 million appropriation for charters in the current academic year is $15.8 million short of what the schools had sought from Gov. Linda Lingle.

Dozens of charter school students rallied at the state Capitol to lobby for money last spring, and the Lingle administration consulted with lawmakers as late as April 23 -- about a week before the session ended -- to adjust the charter budget to account for four new schools that had been approved.

"I know that (DuPuis) was taking the heat for a lot of what happened," said Thatcher, former president of the Hawaii Charter Schools Network. "And there were legislators that were blaming her."

State Sen. Rosalyn Baker, chairwoman of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a phone message yesterday that she had no comment about DuPuis' resignation.

Late last session, Baker told the Star-Bulletin she was surprised to learn the charter review panel had approved a new school, Hawaii Technology Academy, as the budget was being finalized.

"We ought to rewrite the entire charter funding mechanism," she said then. "It doesn't give either the Legislature or the charters any comfort in predictability."

Parker said the review panel is considering delaying the launch of future charter schools by one year from when they are approved to give educators and lawmakers time to ensure they will be adequately funded.

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1996-2008 The Honolulu Star-Bulletin |