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Closed charter school meetings rile parents

KAILUA-KONA >> A closed door meeting about a Big Island teacher accused of abusing students is highlighting different rules about what charter schools have to tell the public.

West Hawaii Today reported Tuesday that the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science held a meeting about the teacher but did not tell parents where it was being held.

The state sunshine law requires public boards to announce the location of their meetings. Charter schools have to post meeting notices and agendas six days before a meeting, and minutes must be made available within 30 days. 

But charter schools do not have to tell the public about executive sessions that are closed to the public, said Anne Lopez, special assistant to the attorney general. 

“Our position is that (the rules) only provide requirements for notices and agendas for public meetings,” Lopez said, referring to public charter schools. “And there are no statutory requirements for nonpublic meetings.”

The academy’s board held an executive session last week to discuss whether the teacher violated an agreement by attending a school function after she was placed on administrative leave.

The meeting was relocated due to concerns for the teacher’s safety. When parents found out the new location and began arriving, she left because she felt unsafe, said Steve Hirakami, the school’s director.

Hirakami said he will not tell the public when the next executive sessions on the issue will be held, because parents may disrupt the meeting again.

“We will release a statement following the meeting,” Hirakami said.

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