Friday, November 21, 2003

Charter schools waiting for exec

By Hunter Bishop/Tribune-Herald

Charter school officials in Hawaii are still waiting for the Board of Education to appoint an executive director for the Hawaii Charter Schools Network.

Representatives from the state's 26 charter schools agreed unanimously on a single candidate from among 23 applications submitted for the post and submitted the name to the board for confirmation on Sept. 30.

The state Legislature adopted a law this year that established the charter school organization, and designated that the board would make the appointment from recommendations submitted by the charter schools.

Thirteen of the state's 26 charter schools are on the Big Island.

But the board balked because there was only one name submitted. Board member Carol Gabbard said the board was frustrated because the law said "recommendations" would be submitted, implying more than one.

John Thatcher, a counselor at Connections Public Charter School in Hilo, said the committee had found the "perfect" candidate to oversee sate - funded charter schools but that some state administrators and board members apparently are uncomfortable with the charter schools' selection.

The board asked the committee to submit three names for the board's consideration and sent the matter for review to the state Attorney General's office.

At Thursday's meeting of the Board of Education at Waiakea High School, Chairman Herb Watanabe introduced a Nov. 19 letter from state Sen. Norman Sakamoto and Rep. Roy Takumi, who chair their respective education committees, calling on the board to make the appointment.

"Perhaps the actual language of the law is not as precise as it could have been," Sakamoto and Takumi's letter said. Legislators thought the diverse interests of charter schools might result in disagreement, so it intended that the board would choose one from the nominees, it explained.

But the charter schools "have consensus on someone they believe will represent their interests well. We would urge the Board to affirm their choice for executive director," the letter said.

Watanabe said Thursday the board also would refer the legislators' letter to the attorney general for review.