Hawaii Board of Education Selects Next Superintendent

The State of Hawaii Board of Education (BOE) is pleased to announce it has selected Christina Kishimoto, Ph.D. as the incoming Superintendent to lead the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE).  After a rigorous search process that spanned several months and 92 applicants, the BOE interviewed two final candidates on May 11, 2017 before making its decision.

“Because both finalists were so highly qualified, it was a difficult decision for the Board,” said BOE Chairperson Lance Mizumoto who led the committee that conducted the search. “In the end, however, we felt that Dr. Kishimoto has the right combination of experience, knowledge, and focus to implement the strategic vision for educational change set forth in the Governor’s Blueprint for Education and the BOE and HIDOE’s newly revised joint strategic plan.  We invite the state to join us in welcoming Dr. Kishimoto with respect, generosity, and warmth.”

Kishimoto signed a three-year contract and will start on August 1, 2017.  She will begin her transition out of her current role as Superintendent of the Gilbert Public Schools (GPS) district in Arizona.

“It is with great excitement and honor that I accept this critical education leadership position for the State of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of Education,” said Kishimoto.  “In partnership with Chairperson Mizumoto, the Board, and Governor David Ige, I look forward to implementing a vision of excellence for all students.  I look forward to working hand in hand with Hawaii’s teachers, leaders, staff, parents, community members, and student leaders to execute on this vision of high quality college, career, and community readiness.”

“We are excited to have someone with a track record of reducing achievement gaps and a commitment to school empowerment to lead our public school system,” stated BOE member and former HIDOE teacher and administrator Patricia Bergin.  “I am confident that Dr. Kishimoto will bring fresh ideas to our system, and her strong family ties to Hawaii and her excitement to embrace the foundational pieces of our system, such as Nā Hopena A‘o, demonstrates that she understands and respects Hawaii’s uniqueness.”

University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Education professor and a member of the advisory group to the search committee Patricia Halagao stated, “I was impressed with Dr. Kishimoto’s focus on school design models that celebrate and sustain our diversity of language and culture. As a former public school teacher and someone who now trains teachers, I also appreciate how Dr. Kishimoto elevates teachers as educational experts and aims to create a system conducive for us to thrive and do what we do best—teach.”

Kishimoto has been the GPS Superintendent since July 2014.  She is recognized nationally as a visionary leader in education for her reform work in school turnaround and portfolio school development. Kishimoto earned a Masters in Public Affairs from the University of Connecticut and a doctorate from Columbia University.  In June 2014, she completed two years of board service on the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, an organization focused on student centered practices and policies.

During the selection process, the BOE conducted a thorough background check, which included civil, criminal, financial, and educational verifications. Chairperson Mizumoto added, “In addition, district officials, former Superintendents, and other individuals in the Gilbert district were contacted. Various negative statements made about Dr. Kishimoto were either inconsequential or simply invalid.”

Next month, the BOE will hold a news conference to formally introduce Kishimoto as the new HIDOE superintendent.

Outgoing HIDOE Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi ends her term on June 30, 2017. The BOE plans to name an interim Superintendent to serve during the transition month of July.

“Congratulations and best wishes to Christina,” said Supt. Matayoshi. “I’m confident she will build on the progress made to improve our public education system, and continue to keep students at the center of all that we do.”

The BOE formulates statewide educational policy and appoints the Superintendent as the chief executive officer of the public school system.  For more information about the Superintendent search and process, please visit the BOE’s website at http://boe.hawaii.gov.

Statement by Governor David Y. Ige:

I welcome Dr. Christina Kishimoto to this important post. While Dr. Kishimoto will lead the effort to remodel our school system, she will need the support of the entire community. Her success will be our success. Together, we can ensure that those closest to our students are empowered to make decisions that provide the basics and add the new skills our children need to prosper in the future.

I commend the Board of Education for its hard work in making this selection. Board members conducted an unbiased search and considered many well-qualified candidates. The success of our students was at the heart of their decision.

Mahalo to Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi who led a reform effort that created a solid foundation upon which we will continue to build and improve.