STATE OF HAWAII
BOARD OF EDUCATION
HUMAN RESOURCES COMMITTEE
Queen Liliuokalani Building
1390 Miller Street, Room 404
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Dwight Takeno, Committee Chairperson
Bruce Voss, Esq.
Kaimana Barcarse, Committee Vice Chairperson
Brian De Lima, Esq.
Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent
Cynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Talent Management
Nanette Hookano, Personnel Specialist, Investigations Section, Office of Talent Management
Janette Snelling, Deputy Complex Area Superintendent, Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex Area
Stacey Aldrich, State Librarian
Alison Kunishige, Executive Director
Kenyon Tam, Board Analyst
Regina Pascua, Board Private Secretary
Irina Dana, Secretary
I. Call to Order
The Human Resources Committee (“Committee”) meeting was called to order by Committee Chairperson Dwight Takeno at 9:30 a.m.
II. *Public testimony on Human Resources Committee (“Committee” or “HR”) agenda items
Committee Chairperson Takeno called for public testimony. There was no public testimony at this time.
Written testimony was also received and provided to the Board members. The following is a listing of the people that submitted written testimony before the testimony deadline.
|Vanessa Ott||Public||IV.A. Semi-annual update on pending cases of Department of Education employees on Department Directed Leave (“DDL”) or Leave Pending Investigation (“LPI”)||Comment|
III. Approval of Meeting Minutes of September 19, 2019
ACTION: Motion to approve the Human Resources Committee Meeting minutes of September 1, 2019 (Uemura/Payne). The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye.
IV. Discussion Items
Cynthia Covell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Talent Management, introduced Nanette Hookano, Personnel Specialist, Investigations Section, Office of Talent Management.
A. Semi-annual update on pending cases of Department of Education employees on Department Directed Leave (“DDL”)or Leave Pending Investigation (“LPI”)
Covell reviewed a semi-annual update on pending cases of Department of Education (“Department”) employees on Department directed leave (“DDL”) or leave pending investigation (“LPI”). Covell highlighted that the Department is responsible for providing employees with a safe environment. She noted that administrators and supervisors must take timely administrative action if employees engage in misconduct.
Covell reviewed a summary of DDL and LPI cases from April 1, 2019 through September 30, 2019. She detailed that the Department closed 37 cases and opened 28 cases in this six-month time period. The Department has 52 cases pending as of September 30, 2019. She noted that 52 cases out of 22,000 salaried employees is 0.24% of the population. Covell detailed the 52 pending cases. She noted that 31 are allegations of inappropriate conduct toward students, 11 are allegations of a hostile work environment, three are allegations of sexual harassment, two are allegations of inappropriate use of equipment, one is a theft allegation, and three are allegations of possession of drugs and/or alcohol.
Covell stated that the Department reviewed longitudinal five-year trends and observed that the predominant category of allegations fall under inappropriate conduct toward students. She noted that inappropriate conduct towards students covers a range of misconduct from inappropriate statements to inappropriate touching.
Covell reviewed a summary of closed cases. She stated that the Department closed 37 cases in this six-month timeframe. She detailed that four cases resulted in termination, eight cases resulted in suspension, six cases resulted in written reprimands, one case resulted in counseling, 13 employees resigned or retired during the investigation, and five employees returned to work. Covell emphasized the importance of the decision-making and post-investigation phases and noted that administrators determine outcomes during these phases. She stated that sometimes decision makers might need to extend the length of time it takes to resolve a case if they need to request more information, if questions arise regarding misconduct, or if they need to determine corrective action. Covell detailed that the Department closed half of its cases in less than six months. She noted that the Department’s target is six months. She stated that the Department takes action to close cases sooner once cases are open for 11 or 12 months.
Committee Member Catherine Payne asked if the Department included the number of employees who received a written reprimand under the category of employees who returned to work. Hookano stated that the Department did not count employees in more than one category. She explained that employees under the return to work category did not receive disciplinary action.
Committee Chairperson Takeno asked about the disposition of cases. He asked if the disposition includes that a complainant filed a complaint, administrators conducted an investigation, and decision makers rendered a decision. Covell confirmed that this is correct. Committee Chairperson Takeno asked if appeals are included in the disposition of cases. Covell stated that the Department did not include post-investigation appeals in its DDL and LPI data.
Covell reviewed the Department’s 52 open cases. She stated that 30 cases were in the investigation stage as of September 30, 2019, but the Department has reduced the number of cases in the investigation stage since then. She noted that the Department has completed the investigation for its one case that was in the investigation phase for over 12 months. She detailed that she receives monthly reports from investigators and the Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent receive quarterly reports. Covell noted that the Department reviews cases more closely once cases are open for more than six months.
Covell highlighted that the Department has established one permanent investigator position for each complex area. She detailed that Complex Area Superintendents (“CAS”) chose to fund six positions but the complex areas that did not choose to fund this position still have them. Covell noted that the Department requested additional funding in its supplemental budget. Covell stated that complex areas now have investigators in addition to equity specialists.
Covell noted that half of the Department’s cases fall under civil rights and protected classes. She highlighted that equity specialists received extensive training this year regarding Title IX, gender, and athletics. She noted that investigators continue to receive training regarding processes and timeliness. Covell detailed that decision- making training is continuous. She highlighted that CASs and principals review outlier open cases together and undergo the process to learn how to conduct an investigation. The Department’s leadership academy trains new principals and CASs on investigations, labor relations, terminations, and so forth.
Covell reviewed next steps and noted that she previously mentioned that the Department is searching for data collection tools. The Department recently reviewed tools with the Office of Information Technology Services but has not received a final demonstration to ensure that it works. She noted that the Department’s current data collection process is cumbersome and involves spreadsheets.
Committee Member Kenneth Uemura commented that the Department presented its DDL and LPI data in isolation. He stated that it appears as though DDL and LPI data is trending positively, but it is unclear whether the Department is performing well because the Committee is unable to make comparisons to previous years. He stated that he would like the Department to present longitudinal data in the future. He stated that he would also like the Department to include information that it presents orally at meetings in its written memoranda. He noted, as an example, that the Department’s takeaways are included in its presentation, but not in its memorandum.
Covell stated that she could speak to this information and include additional detail in future presentations. She reviewed five-year trends and noted that the Department’s goal is not to reduce the number of DDL and LPI cases to zero because that would mean that the Department is not addressing misconduct. She detailed that the Department opened 94 cases in the 2014-2015 school year, 81 in the 2015-2016 school year, 61 in the 2016-2017 school year, and 81 in the 2017-2018 school year. More recently the Department has opened 73 cases. She detailed that the Department averages 78 cases per year. She noted that the Department closed 60% of cases within six months over the course of the last five years, 21% within seven to 11 months, and 20% in more than 12 months.
Committee Member Uemura asked about current percentages. Covell detailed that 35% of cases this past year were outliers which increased the average.
Committee Member Uemura noted that data has remained steady but the Department’s processes have changed. He stated that it is unclear how 0.24% compares to the national average. He stated that he expects the Department to open 50 to 80 cases each year but would like more information regarding how the Department processes cases.
Committee Member Kili Namauʻu expressed concern that teachers and other staff resign amidst investigations due to frustration. She asked about the Department’s next steps in instances where staff resign prior to the completion of an investigation.
Covell explained that the Department continues investigations regardless of resignations if accusations fall under civil rights complaints. She noted that in some instances the Department closes cases if individuals who were accused of misconduct choose to resign and agree to not return. The Department reopens cases if these individuals do return. She noted that the Department continues its investigation when allegations are especially egregious because the Department wants to adjudicate these cases even if individuals resign. She noted that the Department works with the Hawaii Teachers Standards Board to ensure that individuals whose licenses were revoked are entered into a national database. She explained that in regards to victims, the Department’s next steps depend on the circumstances and victims’ needs. She emphasized that supports are critical and important.
Committee Member Namauʻu detailed a specific situation where a veteran teacher did not have the opportunity to share his side of the story after he was accused of misconduct. Covell explained that some investigations are lengthier than others because of due process. She noted that teachers are able to provide statements to decision makers and provide input after decision-making. Covell highlighted that teachers have the option to call the Fraud and Ethics Hotline or pursue other paths that lead directly to the Superintendent, Deputy Superintendent, and CASs.
Committee Member Namauʻu asked for more information regarding the Department’s processes, including whether school-level or complex-level administrators investigate alleged misconduct. Covell stated that processes depend upon whether employees are classified or certificated and the nature of the misconduct. She explained that if the outcome of the investigation includes termination then the Superintendent reviews the case. Covell noted that retention is important and the Department encourages principals to listen and be open-minded.
Committee Member Namauʻu emphasized the importance of the Department addressing teacher shortages and retention. She asked whether the Department conducts exit interviews or trains principals when teachers choose to resign amidst investigations. Covell detailed the Department’s principal pipeline development and highlighted that CASs supervise principals. She noted that the Department conducts training and reviews principal placements. She detailed that employees fill out separation forms and have the opportunity to leave comments. Covell noted that principals sign separation forms. She highlighted that beginning teacher retention rates have increased this year.
Committee Member Bruce Voss expressed concern regarding the Department’s meeting materials. He stated that it is important that the Committee and public receive accurate information and emphasized the importance of transparency. Committee Member Voss commented that the Department previously submitted lists of cases as part of its meeting materials and asked why the Department did not submit a list for this meeting. Covell stated that the Department could submit a list as part of its meeting materials the next time that it presents on DDL and LPI cases. She noted that the Department does not release names, areas, or locations but reviews this information internally to ensure that incidences are not occurring within a single complex area. She stated that the Department did not intentionally leave out lists with redacted information and could submit this information for future meetings.
Committee Member Voss stated that he would like the Department to submit these lists as part of its presentation materials. He explained that the Department previously submitted this information because of the lack of public confidence and emphasized the importance of transparency. Committee Member Voss stated that he is not suggesting that the Department disclose personal information but noted that it is important for the Department to keep the public informed so that there is confidence that the Department is moving in the right direction.
Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent, stated that she welcomes additional discussion and conversation. She noted that the Department wants to ensure that its public information is respectful of individuals undergoing the DDL and LPI process, especially when there are few cases. She suggested that the Department and Committee discuss past presentations and what is necessary for public accountability while protecting individuals.
Committee Chairperson Takeno stated that it is important for the Department to share additional data. He noted that transparency would help the public to understand that the Department is actively working on closing cases. Committee Chairperson Takeno commented that the nature of cases are serious and could lead to litigation. He noted that there are serious infractions and allegations. He stated that the Department has data and could review whether there are trends or areas in which incidences tend to occur.
Committee Chairperson Takeno noted that inappropriate conduct is of concern and most cases fall under inappropriate conduct towards students. He stated that he would like the Department to include whether the Department is conducting training or outreach to prevent situations from occurring in future presentations. He emphasized the importance of the Department’s processes to address complaints but stated that the Department also should focus on how prevent incidences from occurring in the first place. He stated that he would like the Department to report on trends in complex areas and whether the Department is implementing training to reduce the number of incidences.
Covell stated that the Department reviews trends and trains staff on investigation and decision-making processes. She stated that CASs and principals target areas in need of training. Covell highlighted that the Department partnered with the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board to train employees on ethics and plans to roll out ethics training for principals and teachers next year. She stated that training is driven by the needs of different areas. She noted that some individuals choose to engage in misconduct regardless of training and it is important for the Department to hold these individuals accountable.
Committee Chairperson Takeno emphasized the importance of prevention and the Department being proactive. He stated that he is aware that the Department focuses its training on how to conduct investigations and due process but he would like to know more about what the Department is doing to reduce the number of complaints and allegations.
Covell asked about the Committee’s goals. Committee Chairperson Takeno explained that he would like the Department to review whether specific types of incidences are occurring in certain areas and report on the Department’s actions to mitigate these incidences. Covell stated that the Department could collect data and include this information in future LPI and DDL presentations. She stated that the Department is currently implementing statewide training on Hawaii Administrative Rules (“HAR”) Chapter 19, entitled “Student Misconduct, Discipline, School Searches and Seizures, Reporting Offenses, Police Interviews and Arrests, and Restitution for Vandalism,” and HAR Chapter 89, entitled “Civil Rights Policy and Complaint Procedure for Student(s) Complaints Against Adult(s)."
V. Recommendation for Action
Committee Chairperson Takeno stated that he would like to clarify why the Committee is using a different procedure for both the appointment of a CAS and discussing the State Librarian’s employment contract. He detailed that the Committee would have gone into executive session to discuss these issues and then exited to take action in public under previous protocols. However, on June 27, 2019, the Hawaii Supreme Court issued an opinion regarding discussion of personnel matters in executive session. Based on this opinion, the discussion of the CAS appointment and the State Librarian’s employment contract should occur in public because there is no clear, legitimate privacy interest in highly personal and intimate information, as described in the opinion.
A. Committee Action on recommendation concerning appointment of the Complex Area Superintendent for the Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex Area
Covell introduced Janette Snelling, Deputy CAS, Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex Area. She stated that the Department is recommending the Committee approve the appointment of Snelling to CAS for the complex area. She highlighted that Snelling has been in the position of Deputy CAS since July 1, 2019.
Kishimoto highlighted the Department’s new process for planning for the replacement of key leaders, specifically at the complex-level. She detailed that the Department encourages CASs to confidentially notify the Department of their intent to move to a different position or retire a year in advance to allow the Department to plan with CASs. The Department receives feedback from principals during its search and places CAS aspirants into the CAS position six months in advance if possible so that aspirants are able to learn from outgoing CASs. Kishimoto stated that the Department is in the process of filling two other CAS positions in the next month to replace CASs who are leaving on July 1, 2020. She noted that succession planning has led to improvements.
Snelling highlighted that the Department’s process allowed her to become acquainted with the different facets of the position and forge relationships.
Committee Member Uemura moved to approve the appointment of Janette Snelling as CAS for the Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex Area. Committee Member Margaret Cox seconded.
Committee Member Voss commented that the complex area is diverse in terms of socioeconomic needs. He asked what Snelling thinks are her immediate challenges. Snelling stated that the complex area shares the same vision and mission although it is diverse and there are differences. She stated that her immediate challenge would be to harness the mindset of shared responsibility. Snelling highlighted that the complex area is able to mitigate its differences if it can move forward with a united effort.
Committee Member Uemura commented that the Department’s memorandum does not provide the Committee with enough information to make an informed decision. He emphasized the importance of transparency and noted that CAS positions are important to moving forward to accomplish strategic goals. He asked about the Department’s process for selecting aspiring CASs and the Department’s basis for recommending Snelling. Committee Member Uemura asked how Snelling’s experience aligns to the duties and responsibilities of a CAS.
Kishimoto explained that she uses common approaches while simultaneously reviewing complex areas’ needs. She detailed that significant shifts in academic strategies or needs in terms of capacity, recruitment, or retention drive what the Department is looking for. She detailed that the Department meets with principals and receive input regarding critical needs, missions, and visions, and review which skills and attributes would be necessary in a CAS. She stated that the Deputy Superintendent leads the vetting process and a team consisting of principals, teachers, parents, and community members provide feedback on finalists. She stated that she reviews resumes and meets with finalists to make a final determination.
Kishimoto stated that it was important for the Department to place an individual in this position who understood the area. She highlighted Snelling’s leadership and background working in elementary, middle, and high schools. She stated that Snelling understands the importance of the kindergarten through twelfth grade continuum. Kishimoto stated that Snelling’s vision aligns with the complex area’s vision. She highlighted that Snelling’s voice is unique and she is a next generation leader.
Committee Member Uemura asked what led the Department to believe that Snelling would be able to improve the complex area in the several months she served as Deputy CAS. Kishimoto stated that she made the decision to recommend Snelling to the Committee six months ago which is why she placed her in the complex area. The purpose of placing Snelling in the complex area prior to the outgoing CAS’s departure was for Snelling to understand the scope of the job and for the Department to observe her in the position. She stated that the Department received positive feedback from school partners. Kishimoto highlighted that Snelling had the opportunity to transition, create her own style of leadership, and set expectations that align with the Department’s new 2020-2030 Strategic Plan. She highlighted that Snelling engaged with the Department’s new 2020-2030 Strategic Plan and five promises and articulated how she would engage principals.
Committee Member Uemura asked about Snelling’s strategic planning and budgeting experience. Kishimoto explained that all CASs train on these areas.
Committee Member Uemura asked about Snelling’s leadership, community outreach, and vision. Snelling detailed the 11 years she spent as principal at Kohala Middle School and Kohala High School. She highlighted that she met targets and fulfilled the vision and mission of the schools. Snelling stated that her vision is broad rather than focused. She detailed her experience partnering with other schools as principal and creating other critical partnerships.
Committee Member Uemura asked about hard decisions Snelling has had to make. Snelling detailed the lack of financial resources in rural schools and explained how she had to bring back a vice principal position after eliminating the position due to finances. She stated that the addition of administrative positions might lead to a reduction in teacher positions which is why it was a difficult decision to make. Snelling emphasized that she had to clearly and transparently explain her reasoning to the school community.
Committee Chairperson Takeno asked the Department to include additional detail in future memoranda for appointments.
ACTION: Motion to approve the appointment of Janette Snelling as Complex Area Superintendent for the Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex Area (Uemura/Cox). The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye.
Committee Member Payne reviewed amendments to the State Librarian employment contract. She detailed that the State Librarian’s salary is capped at a specific level by law and the State Librarian’s salary cap has been $120,000 since 2001. She noted that this salary was not competitive. Committee Member Payne highlighted that the Legislature passed Act 224 in 2019, which increased the State Librarian’s salary cap from $120,000 to $175,000. She noted that this increase is not connected to the State Librarian’s performance evaluation. The Board of Education (“Board”) will review the State Librarian’s salary annually and can consider increases based on performance, cost-of-living adjustments, or equity and compression. Committee Member Payne emphasized that there are issues of equity and compression because the State Librarian’s salary cap has not been increased for the last 18 years. She proposed the annual rate of $155,000 to Stacey Aldrich, State Librarian, to address the issues of equity and compression and Aldrich agreed. Committee Member Payne noted that the Legislature provided feedback to not immediately propose a salary increase to $175,000. She detailed that research shows that $155,000 is still low compared to librarian salaries across the nation.
B. Committee Action on Amendments to State Librarian Employment Contract
Committee Member Namauʻu moved to approve the Amendment of the April 2, 2018 Employment Contract between Stacey Aldrich and the Board of Education, State of Hawaii, attached as Exhibit B in Board Chairperson Payne’s memorandum dated November 21, 2019, and authorize Board Chairperson Payne to execute the amendment on behalf of the Board. Committee Member Uemura seconded.
Committee Member Voss stated that he supported the substantial increase but expressed concern than an annual salary of $155,000 is arbitrary. He stated that the increase is not competitive or commensurate with other similarly sized library systems. He noted that the Legislature did not want the Committee to immediately propose $175,000 because it wants the Committee to be able to offer performance increases. He stated that Aldrich’s salary should be comparable to nationwide salaries. He stated that he would support the $155,000 proposal but believes she should receive $175,000 if that amount is more comparable to what other state librarians receive and stated that he would like data regarding nationwide salaries.
Committee Member Payne commented that the current action will be retroactive to when the Legislature passed Act 224 but the Committee would have a chance to increase Aldrich’s base.
Committee Chairperson Takeno commented that $155,000 would be Aldrich’s base and the performance evaluation could potentially include metrics that would provide Aldrich with a one-time bonus that would not affect the base salary. Committee Member Payne commented that the Committee might also have the opportunity to offer base increases. She stated that the Board would be able to articulate its actions to the Legislature to show that it took meaningful steps.
Committee Member Uemura stated that he supported the proposed salary of $155,000 but agreed that the Committee should review nationwide data and market studies regarding salaries. He stated that the Committee would need to determine whether the proposed salary is below or above market rates.
Committee Chairperson Takeno stated that the Committee previously could not recognize the State Librarian for meeting targets and expressed appreciation that the Committee has the flexibility to do so now.
ACTION: Motion to approve the Amendment of the April 2, 2018 Employment Contract between Stacey Aldrich and the Board of Education, State of Hawaii, attached as Exhibit B in Board Chairperson Catherine Payne’s memorandum dated November 21, 2019, and authorize Board Chairperson Payne to execute the amendment on behalf of the Board (Namauʻu/Cox). The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye.
Committee Chairperson Takeno adjourned the meeting at 10:31 a.m.