Hawaii Board of Education Hears Laupahoehoe Charter School Appeals

The Hawai`i Board of Education (BOE) heard two appeals today brought by Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School (LCPCS) that challenged the actions of the Charter School Review Panel (CSRP). The Panel had denied an amendment to the school’s implementation plan and proposed delaying the opening of the school by a year.

The Board appeared receptive to comprehensive and spirited written and oral arguments presented by representatives of the Interim Local School Board (ILSB). In contrast, Carl Takamura, representing the CSRP, arrived late and was visibly challenged when faced with pointed questions from the BOE about the CSRP’s authority and lack of communication with the charter school. The BOE seemed unsatisfied with his responses, particularly his explanation of the origin of CSRP authority.

When asked by a BOE member why CSRP insisted on LCPCS holding local school board elections by November 21 2011, Takamura could neither justify nor explain why elections could not be held at any time before the opening of the school. As noted by BOE Vice Chair Brian DeLima, the CSRP failed to take into account months of delay caused by the CSRP’s own conduct, including delay resulting from its denial of the charter. School representatives asked that the BOE ensure that Laupahoehoe receive a fair chance to open the school in a timely manner.

Under DeLima’s questioning, Takamura could not justify his insistence on November elections. DeLima also noted that the elections were originally planned for September 2011 but that date became impractical in view of the delays.

LCPCS supporters are confident that the BOE will take appropriate action and enable the charter school to open as scheduled in July 2012. The charter school group expects that the BOE will encourage and insist that the Department of Education fully cooperates in the transition for the benefit of the students.

LCPCS was represented by Monica Morris, Deputy Attorney General. ILSB member Steven Strauss provided a thorough presentation of the major points of the two appeals in response to insightful questions of the BOE. ILSB member Fred Pollock gave verbal testimony, emphasizing that the charter group will lose over a quarter of a million dollars in federal funds if the school does not open in 2012.

ILSB member Lucille Chung, a 1958 graduate of Laupahoehoe High & Elementary School, effectively countered the argument that there is a lack of community support for the charter. Chung conveyed her deep understanding of the heart of the community and emphasized that there is strong support to open the charter school in 2012.

Charter opponents continue to make inflammatory claims that charter school funding is insufficient to support the school, that there will be no sports and that the school will never be closed if run by the DOE. These opinions are directly contrary to the Detailed Implementation Plan that was approved by stakeholders in February 2010 and repeated statements made by Brian DeLima and House Representative Mark Nakashima that school consolidation/closure should be taken seriously.

Strauss urged the BOE to take effective oversight of the CSRP for the benefit of all Hawai`i charter schools.

In the second appeal, the charter school argued that the CSRP’s suspension of the school opening until 2013 exceeded Panel authority and is equivalent to revocation of the charter. Charter school representatives emphasized the need for DOE cooperation and asked the BOE to investigate continuing DOE obstruction and foot dragging.

The BOE also was concerned about the CSRP’s reliance on their “Assurances Framework” for which Takamura could not articulate any statutory authority.

The BOE acknowledged the presence of eleven representatives of the ILSB, school staff, parents and community members who attended the BOE adjudicate hearings.

LCPCS encourages current faculty to consider teaching at the charter school when it opens in July, 2012. Letters of interest and resumes are welcome from all qualified State teachers. Inquiries regarding either student registration or employment should be directed to info@laupahoehoecharterschool.com. More information about LCPCS may be found at www.laupahoehoecharterschool.org.

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