The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) yesterday convened a working group to review Pono Choices, a sexual health education curriculum taught in some middle schools as part of a research study by the University of Hawaii’s (UH) Center on Disability Studies.
On Feb. 4, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE), a discussion of sexual health education curriculum drew additional comments regarding Pono Choices. The BOE received more than 100 written testimonies expressing concerns over the UH pilot curriculum. As a result, the DOE convened a working group comprised of diverse stakeholders to review Pono Choices and make a recommendation on whether it meets statutory requirements and applicable BOE policies regarding sexual health education curriculum.
The group, chaired by DOE Deputy Superintendent Ronn Nozoe, includes:
- Darrin Araki, executive director, Hawaii Pastors Roundtable
- Dr. Robert Bidwell, associate clinical professor of pediatrics and director of adolescent medicine, John A. Burns School of Medicine, UH Manoa
- Karen Ginoza, representative of He’e Coalition and Faith Action for Community Equity (FACE)
- Kimberly Kepner-Sybounmy, parent representative
- Noella Kong, state adolescent health coordinator, Hawaii State Department of Health
- Justin Mew, principal of Kaiser High School; former principal of Niu Valley Middle School and former science teacher
- Donna Rodenhurst, health teacher, King Intermediate School
- Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu, director of culture, Halau Lokahi Public Charter School
The working group meets again on Feb. 27 and welcomes public input through noon on Feb. 26 via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All feedback will be logged and shared with group members. Individuals should not resubmit testimony already provided to the BOE.
The working group will spend as much time as necessary to conduct a thorough review of Pono Choices prior to issuing a public report.
In November, the DOE temporarily placed Pono Choices on hold to address concerns about whether the curriculum was aligned with health education state law and policy. A subsequent UH review of its copyrighted curriculum concluded Pono Choices met the standards.