Posted on: Wednesday, November 15, 2006

BOE minutes reveal members voted 10-1 not to retain Shon

By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Education Writer

Only one Board of Education member Paul Vierling voted against dismissing Jim Shon, the former executive director of the Charter School Administrative Office who was fired Sept. 7 after an executive session meeting by the board.

Two board members Cec Heftel and Garrett Toguchi abstained from voting, according to the heavily blacked-out minutes released yesterday in compliance with an opinion from the Office of Information Practices that the board must release portions of the minutes reflecting motions made regarding Shon and the votes taken.

The remaining 10 voting members voted to relieve Shon of his duties, with board member Karen Knudsen noting, according to the minutes, that it was "a difficult decision for some board members to make" as they had known Shon for a long time.

The minutes also show that it was board member Mary Cochran who made the original motion not to retain Shon, with Toguchi seconding the motion.

OIP released its decision before the Nov. 7 general election, and had asked that the redacted minutes be released immediately, but the school board postponed a decision to consult with the state attorney general.

Open government advocate Larry Geller, one of two people who had asked the OIP for assistance in having certain parts of the closed-door session made public, said he thinks the board is "behaving like a child trying hard to squirm out of following a parent's orders."

And he said he was going to ask the OIP if the minimal disclosure conforms to the opinion.

John Thatcher, president of the Hawai'i Charter School network, an informal grassroots organization that includes almost all the charters, said he feels the heavy redaction "makes people more suspicious. Why are they afraid to release it? It looks like they're trying to hide something."

Shon was offered an opportunity to resign, according to the minutes.

Board chairman Randall Yee said it was the attorney general's advice that prompted the heavy redaction. The OIP's opinion allowed the board to withhold information on the board's evaluation of Shon's performance, along with concerns board members had with his performance.

A copy of the redacted minutes is on the Web at http://doe.k12.hi.us/. Look under "News," Nov. 14."

Reach Beverly Creamer at bcreamer@honoluluadvertiser.com.


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