Wednesday, November 25, 2015         

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Harimoto leaving BOE June 30 to run for City Council

By Mary Vorsino


Breene Harimoto, an eight-year member of the Board of Education who in recent months has become an outspoken critic of its operations, will resign effective June 30 to run for City Council.

Harimoto's term ends in 2012. He submitted his letter of resignation yesterday.

Harimoto, who is in favor of a governor-appointed board, said he intends to remain active in discussions of education.

He added that he believes the board has a "certain responsibility" to the public, and he doesn't believe members have lived up to it.

He declined to go into further detail, saying that he plans to talk more frankly after his formal departure from the board.

"I have done my best to serve the people of the state of Hawaii with honor and integrity in support of our public schools," Harimoto said. "I will continue to be a strong advocate for our public schools."

Harimoto, the board's Leeward Oahu district member, was appointed to fill a vacant seat in 2002 and was subsequently elected. He was re-elected in 2004 and 2008, and served as the BOE's chairman in 2004 and 2005.

He has for months expressed frustrations with the board's operations and has publicly disagreed with board Chairman Garrett Toguchi on the handling of former schools superintendent Pat Hamamoto's resignation and the appointment of interim superintendent Kathy Matayoshi.

He has also raised questions about cuts to school-level programs and teacher furloughs and has advocated for an appointed school board, a proposal that will go before voters this November.

Toguchi did not return a call for comment yesterday.

Board member Karen Knudsen said she does not believe Harimoto's departure is based on his differences with board members. "I'm taking it at face value," she said.

BOE member Donna Ikeda, who like Harimoto supports an appointed board, called Harimoto's resignation "a loss for the board." She said, "He was one of the members who diligently did his homework."

Harimoto said he plans to remain as executive director of the Pearl City Foundation-Momilani Community Center.

He will run for the City Council's District 8, which will be vacated by Gary Okino, who cannot run for re-election because of term limits.

The governor will appoint someone to fill Harimoto's seat until the general election, when voters will decide which candidate to choose to serve out the remainder of Harimoto's term.

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