Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent
Phyllis Unebasami, Deputy Superintendent
Heidi Armstrong, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Student Support Services
Alison Kunishige, Executive Director
Kenyon Tam, Board Analyst
Regina Pascua, Executive Secretary
Lady Garrett, Secretary
Board Chairperson Payne called for public testimony on this agenda item. No one provided oral testimony at this time.
Board Chairperson Payne asked Board members to review the minutes of the Board’s November 19, 2020 General Business Meeting and the December 3, 2020 Special Meeting.
Board Vice Chairperson Kenneth Uemura moved to approve the meeting minutes of the November 19, 2020 General Business Meeting and the December 3, 2020 Special Meeting. Board Member Kaimana Barcarse seconded.
Board Chairperson Payne asked if there were any objections to the motion. No Board Member raised objections, and the motion carried through unanimous consent from all members present (Board Vice Chairperson Uemura, Board Members Asher, Barcarse, Cox, Fallin, Namauʻu, and Takeno).
ACTION: Motion to approve the General Business Meeting minutes of November 19, 2020 and the Special Meeting minutes of December 3, 2020 (Uemura/Barcarse). The motion carried through unanimous consent from all members present.
III. Reports of Board Committees, Board Members, and Superintendent
Caroline Freudig, Hawaii State Teachers Association (“HSTA”), testified on the proposed budget cuts. She expressed concern that teachers are being recruited to work in Hawaii, teachers on probationary status will be cut, and abot hiring private tutors to address learning loss.
Human Resources Chairperson Dwight Takeno reported that the Committee received the Department’s presentation on the plan to preserve classroom instruction and discussed an action item on the reorganization of the Accounting Services branch. Because the committee ran out of time, it deferred the agenda item to the full Board for continued discussions. He also reported that during the meeting Christina Kishimoto, Superintendent, informed the committee that Governor David Ige announced a plan to restore some funding to the Department and that an update will be provided at the next meeting.
Board Chairperson Payne called for public testimony on this agenda item.
Susan Pcola-Davis, member of the public, testified that she would like to stand on the Finance and Infrastructure Committee Chairperson’s report.
Jennifer Oana, member of the public, testified that although Governor Ige plans to release more monies to the Department, special education services still be impacted by the proposed budget reductions.
IV. Discussion Items
Julie Reyes Oda, Nanakuli High and Intermediate School, testified that the Department has not responded to her request for telework data, that Kishimoto’s contract ends on July 31, 2021, Kishimoto has consistently ignored Board directives, and she suggested that the Board not wait until the end of the contract to start a search.
Cheri Nakamura, HE‘E Coalition, testified that Kishimoto’s list of accomplishments is extensive, but she needs to have measurable goals and expressed her interest in the results for the end of the year evaluation when more data is available.
Susan Pcola-Davis, member of the public, testified that Kishimoto’s mid-year evaluation is 45 pages of grandstanding; that Kishimoto does not think that there are any areas she needs to work on, and that the search needs to start for a new superintendent who understands Hawaii’s teachers, students, people and families.
Board Chairperson Payne called on Kishimoto to present the update on the superintendent evaluation for the 2020-2021 school year and the mid-year review of progress on the Superintendent Priorities.
Kishimoto provided an update on the five leadership evaluation standards (Component I & Component II) which were agreed upon at the December 17, 2020 Board meeting. The approved priorities are as follows: Superintendent Priority I: during the 2020-2021 school year, accelerate the Department’s digital transformation as measured by decreases in the access gaps, 4.7 percent for device gap and 13.8 percent for the connectivity gap; Superintendent Priority II: during the 2020-2021 school year, promote innovative strategies to improve literacy at all grade levels as measured by decreases in the language arts gap, 2.1 percent for elementary, 1.1 percent for middle school, and 1.4 percent for high school.
Board Member Lynn Fallin commented that the evaluation process the Board adopted is an opportunity to review progress to date and discuss what works and what has not worked, and any ideas around ways to improve.
Board Member Fallin stated that the superintendent position is challenging not just in Hawaii but across the country and even more challenging due to COVID-19. She stated that Kishimoto has placed a lot of emphasis on coordination and collaboration models. Board Member Fallin encouraged continued work on areas related to gap or the strategic plan in the area of communication. She also encouraged Kishimoto to review the feedback received from the public and available on the Board’s website and to think about how this will evolve going forward.
Board Member Barcarse stated that if the device gap at 2 percent and connectivity gap at 2.6 percent can be maintained it will be good for the public education system. He stated that he is looking forward to hearing more about the projections that will be available in February and he asked whether there are any insights based on this information. In addition, Board Member Barcarse asked about areas where students are struggling and what is being done to address those areas. Kishimoto replied that the data for Superintendent Priority II is connected to the Board approved vital sign metrics and that she will share it with the Board in February. She further explained that in terms of challenges there are continued conversations on the achievement gap, pandemic, and the unknowns of regression that will continue to be calculated around learning loss. Kishimoto stated that with equity there is continuous evaluation of how students are experiencing public education. She stated that another piece is teacher retention rates because the Department looks at the data on why teachers leave. Kishimoto stated that the Department learned a lot during this pandemic and not only is the process changing for online and blended learning there is designing around this opportunity to make sure families are supported at home. She is proud of the Ohana Help Desk that was created to make sure families are ready to support children learning at home, which is also available in multiple languages.
Board Student Representative Hunter Harris stated that in the past Department staff has participated in the student council meetings and received feedback from students, which made the council members feel welcomed.
Board Member Takeno stated that he agrees with Board Member Fallin because the overall standards and the sub-standards include areas that need to be improved. He stated that he wants the standards to be upheld, especially how Kishimoto’s vision and organizational leadership leads to developing a positive organizational culture and school climate. He stated he would also like to see Kishimoto address more of the concerns that have been raised in prior Board meetings as well as testimonies received by the Board.
Board Member Shanty Asher stated that no one was ready for the pandemic and she commends the Department on the work that was done given all the challenges over the past year because it was not easy. She congratulated all the staff that is working despite the learning gaps created by the pandemic and noted that there were improvements in language supports.
Vickie Kam, member of the public, testified that if the Department does not vet tutoring providers ahead of time it will experience the same issues as with Acellus Learning Accelerator distance learning program (“Acellus”), that one of the tutoring providers the Department is hiring provides the same presentation every time it provides training at her school. She asked why the Department is phasing out Acellus instead of getting rid of the program.
Susan Pcola-Davis, member of the public, testified that Acellus is a no-win situation, asked what the Department expects from continuing to use Acellus, and that schools are denying requests to discontinue the use Accellus.
Deborah Bond-Upson, Parents for Public Schools of Hawaii, testified of her organization’s members were concerned with inappropriate use of Acellus, expressed appreciation that the Acellus contract has ended given the many documented problems of bias and low-level engagement and urged the Board to provide an alternative form of education during the stay at home mandates, and asked that the Board to consider returning funding to schools who purchased Acellus licenses.
Board Chairperson Payne called on Phyllis Unebasami, Deputy Superintendent, to present the update on Acellus.
Susan Pcola-Davis, member of the public, testified that she would like to address something she brought up earlier on an article relating to tutors. Board Chairperson Payne asked her to reserve testimony for a later agenda item since this was not relevant to the current agenda item.
Board Chairperson Payne stated that the following action item was carried over from the Human Resources Committee, but due to time constraints the committee forwarded this item to the general business meeting for further discussion.
ACTION: Motion to refer the reorganization of Office of Fiscal Services, Accounting Services Branch back to the Human Resources Committee (Takeno/Uemura).The motion carried with six members voting aye and one member abstaining.
Julie Reyes Oda, Nanakuli High and Intermediate School, testified that the Department wants to use $53 million for English and math tutoring for newly identified learning loss mitigation and asked what evidence is being used since there was learning loss before COVID-19. She also stated that she is a full-time teacher and that if attendance is the issue, if the students do not show up for class then the probability of students showing up for tutoring is even less likely.
John Fitzpatrick, member of the public, shared testimony on behalf of two teachers who were fearful of retaliation. He stated that: (1) schools have held meetings to discuss which teacher positions would be cut and now Kishimoto wants to use federal funds for private tutoring, which is insane; and, (2) the Department needs to find another solution that supports school needs.
Lisa Morrison, teacher, testified that she is concerned about the Department using funds to pay for private tutors and shared testimony on behalf of teachers who feel that they cannot speak up for fear of retaliation. She stated that: (1) the pressure to be the perfect special education teacher is daunting and depressing and the support that teacher received from a special education mentor has been invaluable; and (2) teachers need to be supported and the Department needs to prioritize helping teachers and students in the classroom.
Inga Park Okuna, HSTA, testified on behalf of someone who wanted to remain anonymous. She testified that the Department proposed to use federal stimulus money instead of returning the money to schools, so schools are losing special education positions. She stated that the Department’s proposals are unacceptable and the Board needs to find ways to pay teachers and not ask them to do more with less pay.
Erin Centeio, member of the public, testified hiring tutors and not teachers is unacceptable, that the Department’s mission states students are educated, and joyful lifelong learners, so the Department should not beproposing cuts to physical education that will affect the health of future generations and the communities they live in, and she asked for the Board to put the whole child to be at the forefront when making decisions.
Corey Rosenlee, HSTA, asked that the Board follow federal law and all other applicable laws which requires that the Department, “shall continue to pay its employees and contractors during the period of the closure of structures due to the coronavirus.” Rosenlee also stated that Governor Ige’s announcement that he is restoring funding to the Department does not meet the maintenance of effort required to fund education at proportional levels, the Department is still short $53 million, and asked that money the Department wants to put toward tutoring instead be given to schools via the weighted student formula.
Lynn Otaguro, member of the public, testified that she would like to stand on her earlier testimony provided during the Finance and Infrastructure Committee meeting.
Linda Elento, member of the public, testified on special education spending and tutors and asked that before the Department makes these cuts, that it look at the individual students and the resources it can use for students.
Susan Pcola-Davis, member of the public, testified that in a January 16, 2021 article in Civil Beat where Kishimoto stated that tutoring contracts would be funded by Title I or other federal grant monies and not stimulus funding. She stated that tutors should not replace teachers and these federal funds should go to the teachers.
Laverne Moore, HSTA, testified that the Board should take the federal funds for tutoring and put it back into the weighted student formula and not outsource private tutoring.
Geoff Garvin, member of the public, testified that he was hopeful that there would be more emphasis on physical education because students need more activity, not less. He stated that he became a nurse due to a lack of respect for teachers, that health and wellness should be first and foremost, and that students are falling behind in health and wellness.
Dana Shishido, teacher, testified on behalf of teachers who wished to remain anonymous. She stated that teachers are witnessing first-hand how children need to be in classrooms with their peers taught by a qualified teacher and recommended offering federal funds to the teachers in schools.
Deborah Bond-Upson, Parents for Public Schools of Hawaii, testified that members of her organization urge the Board to prioritize teachers instead of developing a tutoring program and risk losing Hawaii’s greatest educational resource.
David Negaard, teacher, shared testimony on behalf of teachers who wished to remain anonymous. He stated: (1) if teacher positions are being cut teachers will move from Hawaii; (2) summer tutoring will not reach all students; and, (3) teachers cannot believe they are once again submitting testimony in fear of their livelihood and asked why are teachers so undervalued.
Board Chairperson Payne stated that written testimony has been posted to the Board’s website. She asked for a motion to continue discussion on the recommendation.
Board Member Voss moved to adopt the motion in the Department’s memorandum for discussion purposes only.
Board Member Barcarse asked for clarification on the motion since his recollection was that action was deferred by the Finance and Infrastructure Committee.
Board Vice Chairperson Uemura explained that the Finance and Infrastructure Committee deferred action on this agenda item because the Department was planning to revise its recommendation for the use of the funds and a deferral would allow the public to comment on this revised recommendation.
Board Member Voss stated that he will withdraw the motion if there is no second. He shared his frustration that the conversation was cut off during the Finance and Infrastructure Committee meeting. Board Chairperson Payne stated that she shares his frustration and that she is aware that the House Finance Committee postponed their meeting because it was waiting for Board action on this agenda item.
Board Vice Chairperson Uemura stated that he asked the Department if its recommendation would change due to Governor Ige’s announcement regarding reducing the amount cut from the Department’s budget and that the Department stated its recommendation would change. He explained that the decision to defer action was based on this response since the public would not have sufficient time to provide input on the Department’s revised recommendations. Uemura stated that in his opinion, the discussion was not cut off but decision-making was deferred because the Department wished to change its recommendations and the Finance and Infrastructure Committee would not have the opportunity to review these revised recommendations and the public would not have an opportunity to comment on these revised recommendations.
Board Chairperson Payne recalled that during the Finance and Infrastructure Committee meeting, Hallett was providing a verbal explanation of the Department’s changes and that it was clear that what was left after budget restrictions were restored would be used for tutoring totaling $53 million. Board Chairperson Payne stated that during this discussion she asked a question and Finance and Infrastructure Chairperson Uemura cut her off and did not allow Kishimoto to respond. She stated that she would like to invite Kishimoto to respond since this is an ongoing discussion, which was prematurely terminated.
Board Vice Chairperson Uemura stated that he disagreed and that Board policy requires public input, so if the Department changes its recommendations, then public input is required on these revised recommendations. Board Vice Chairperson Uemura stated that what the House Committee on Finance is doing does not dictate what the Board is supposed to be doing and he expressed disappointment in Board Chairperson Payne’s comments because it is contradictory to what Board policy requires.
Board Chairperson Payne stated that the public has provided a lot of input and the Board can defer decision-making but it is valuable to have a conversation.
Board Member Voss asked if Kishimoto could comment since she was not given a chance to explain why she proposed tutoring and how the Department is recommending to allocate funds.
Board Chairperson Payne invited Kishimoto to provide comments and continue discussions from the Finance and Infrastructure Committee. Kishimoto explained that the proposal is not to hire tutors over teachers, the proposal is asking for the authorization to use one-time funds to address learning loss. She stated that she understands the reaction to restoring teacher funding and explains the strategy is to obligate funds to other critical needs, including learning loss. Kishimoto explained that the request is for one-time funding and not to restore school budgets since it is not permanent funding to restore these positions.
Hallett stated that Rosenlee did a good job of summarizing Section 307 of the Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2021, which states, “a state shall provide assurances that will maintain support for elementary and secondary education.” Hallett stated that the Department has been, on average, about 23 percent of the state budget and in this years budget it has declined to 21 percent. He further stated that the restoration of $123 million will help, but the final appropriation will from the Legislature will determine whether the state is meeting the maintenance of effort requirement. Halett also explained that Governor Ige may seek a waiver of the maintenance of effort requirement, that the Department does not know what conditions the new U.S Department of Education secretary of education will consider as sufficient to grant this waiver and that this will be an issue for the Department to monitor.
Board Member Fallin stated the proposal speaks specifically to targeted tutoring services beyond classroom instruction and the description is unclear. She stated that she is uncomfortable expending $53 million on something that lacks detail while it is clear that the priority is to expend funds in the classroom.
Board Chairperson Payne asked for a motion to defer. No motion was made.
Linda Elento, member of the public, testified that students with geographical exceptions who have Individualized Education Plans (“IEPs”) and Section 504 plans are included and covered in the administrative rules. She noted that the Department is denying transportation to students in charter schools and she wants this right for those students.
Board Chairperson Payne called on Heidi Armstrong, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Student Support Services, to present the proposed amendments to Hawaii Administrative Rules (”HAR”) Chapter 8-27, entitled “Transportation of Students” (“Chapter 27”).
Armstrong stated that Board approval is needed prior to submitting the revised amendments to the Governor for final approval. She explained that the proposed amendments include: (1) compliance with Chapter 8-27 with Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (“IDEA”) by ensuring that transportation shall be provided to eligible students with disabilities to attend a public charter school where transportation may be required as a related service in accordance with their IEP or Section 504 plan; (2) make the parent mileage reimbursement date consistent with the IRS rules of January rather than July; and, (3) other housekeeping amendments.
Board Member Barcarse moved to approve the proposed amendments to Chapter 27, as attached to Kishimoto’s memorandum, dated January 21, 2021. Board Member Takeno seconded.
Board Member Voss asked if students are eligible for transportation under their IEPs. Armstrong replied that students are eligible as deemed necessary in their IEP or 504 plans.
Board Member Voss asked the Department to construe this eligibility broadly so that appropriate transportation is provided for students with disabilities.
Board Chairperson Payne called for a roll call vote on the motion. The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye (Board Vice Chairperson Uemura, Board Members Asher, Barcarse, Cox, Fallin, Namauʻu, Takeno, and Voss).
ACTION: Motion to approve the proposed amendments to Chapter 27, as attached to Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s memorandum, dated January 21, 2021 (Barcarse/Takeno). The motion carried unanimously with all members present voting aye.
VI. Late Public Testimony on Board Agenda Items
Board Chairperson Payne called for public testimony from any individuals who did not have an opportunity to testify on earlier agenda items.
Susan Pcola-Davis, member of the public, testified that there are teachers who work with students, providing one on one services to help students through whatever they are having problems with in school and she strongly suggested looking at using those teachers to help struggling students or expanding their positions.
Heather Moselle, member of the public, testified she is happy the Department chose another program to replace Acellus, stated that no plug and play option can replace teachers, expressed satisfaction that the Department has developed a temporary solution, and expressed her hope that it will be available in February.
Board Members received written testimony before the meeting. The following is a listing of the people who submitted written testimony before the meeting.
|Zan Timtim||IV.B. Update on Acellus Learning Accelerator distance learning program (“Acellus”): Board's October 15, 2020 directives regarding communication with families, phase out by the end of the 2020-2021 school year, and other learning options for families; status of Acellus transition plan after second quarter; school plans for third quarter; and curriculum management system and instructional material review and selection process|
|Lynn Otaguro||V.B. Board Action on Finance and Infrastructure Committee recommendations concerning Department of Education’s plan for use of federal funds in the new Covid-19 relief package and annual federal spending|
|C. Burghardt||IV.A Update on Superintendent’s evaluation for the 2020-2021 School Year: mid-year review of progress on Superintendent’s priorities|
IV.B Update on Acellus Learning Accelerator distance learning program (“Acellus”): Board's October 15, 2020 directives regarding communication with families, phase out by the end of the 2020-2021 school year, and other learning options for families; status of Acellus transition plan after second quarter; school plans for third quarter; and curriculum management system and instructional material review and selection process
|Liz Ho||UPW, Communications Officer||V.B. Board Action on Finance and Infrastructure Committee recommendations concerning Department of Education’s plan for use of federal funds in the new Covid-19 relief package and annual federal spending|
|Alexandra Obra||Principal, Waiahole Elementary School||V.B. Board Action on Finance and Infrastructure Committee recommendations concerning Department of Education’s plan for use of federal funds in the new Covid-19 relief package and annual federal spending|
|Cheri Nakamura||HE‘E Coalition||IV.A. Update on Superintendent’s evaluation for the 2020-2021 School Year: mid-year review of progress on Superintendent’s priorities|
|Jennifer Chang||III.A. Human Resources Committee Report|
V.B. Board Action on Finance and Infrastructure Committee recommendations concerning Department of Education’s plan for use of federal funds in the new Covid-19 relief package and annual federal spending
|Adrienna Robillard||Item IV.B. Update on Acellus Learning Accelerator distance learning program (“Acellus”): Board's October 15, 2020 directives regarding communication with families, phase out by the end of the 2020-2021 school year, and other learning options for families; status of Acellus transition plan after second quarter; school plans for third quarter; and curriculum management system and instructional material review and selection process|
|Lois Yamauchi||Parents for Public Schools|
|Ku‘ulei Serna||III.B. Presentation on impact of 2021-2023 fiscal biennium budget cuts on School and Complex Area levels|
|Susan Rocco||Special Education Advisory Council|
|Susan Pcola-Davis||IV.A. Update on Superintendent’s evaluation for the 2020-2021 School Year: mid-year review of progress on Superintendent’s priorities|
Board Chairperson Payne adjourned the meeting at 5:10 p.m.