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Teachers avoided firings in 2010-11

Several instructors were suspended, including one for 20 days, data show

By Mary Vorsino


No Hawaii public school teachers were fired for misconduct in the 2010-11 school year, but 10 received unpaid suspensions of varying lengths, according to details of disciplinary actions released by the state Department of Education.

In previous years as many as eight teachers have been terminated for misconduct. There was one teacher fired in the 2009-10 school year.

The DOE stressed the number of teachers disciplined for misconduct represents a tiny fraction of its 12,500-member teaching force.

Ronn Nozoe, DOE deputy superintendent, said he is confident the statistics reflect that student safety is the highest priority for schools.

He said the focus of DOE reviews of incidents involving teacher misconduct is a "continuum of improvement."


2010-11: 10 teachers suspended

2009-10: 11 teacher suspended, 1 fired

2008-09: 21 teachers suspended, 3 fired

2007-08: 15 teachers suspended, 8 fired

2006-07: 8 teachers suspended, 5 fired

Source: State Department of Education


"It's looking at the whole scheme," he said. "People do stuff and make mistakes along the way. In most cases those (disciplinary) interventions are effective."

The longest suspension in the 2010-11 school year — the most recent data available — was 20 days for an Alia­manu Middle School teacher who made a racial slur against an administrator. The DOE said the teacher had previously been suspended in 2009, for gesturing inappropriately to another teacher.

The shortest suspensions were for one day.

A Moanalua Elementary teacher received a daylong suspension for using profanity while speaking with the principal, while a Niu Valley Middle teacher was suspended for a day for writing an essay for a student, according to the DOE.

Wil Okabe, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said the DOE data appear to show evidence of "inconsistency" in disciplinary actions.

He said the union has long been concerned that disciplinary actions varied from region to region.

"There's no set rule on the same penalty for certain things," he said. "In Leeward Oahu it could be a two-day suspension. On the Big Island it could be a week."

He said he wants to sit down with the department to discuss how to ensure disciplinary procedures are "fair and consistent."

But Nozoe said disciplinary procedures are consistent and that principals are trained to ensure misconduct is thoroughly investigated. Suspensions are handed down after consultation with human-resources professionals at each complex area. Terminations, meanwhile, must be approved by the superintendent of schools.

He said the information made public about suspensions might appear inconsistent at "face value." But he said there is sometimes material that cannot be released to protect employee privacy.

"Not all actions are the same, and they're not the same degree of seriousness," he said.

The teacher discipline information was released after a public-records request filed by the Star-Advertiser in February.

The DOE fulfilled the request in late November and responded to questions seeking additional detail this week.

Nozoe would not comment on why the request took so long to fulfill, but said the information is not easily accessible. Personnel at each complex must determine what information can be released, and must confer with complex administrators to ensure the information is accurate, he said.

The 10 teacher suspensions in the 2010-11 school year compare with 11 in 2009-10 and 21 in 2008-09.

Three teachers were suspended for 10 days in 2010-11.

One left her Lei­le­hua High classroom to "reportedly use the restroom a number of times," allowing her students to go without supervision; another directed inappropriate sexual comments to Molokai Middle students, including about a student's clothing; and the third, a teacher at Mountain View Elementary, took a string a child was playing with and "briefly tied the student to the chair," according to the DOE.

Other suspensions included five days for a Manoa Elementary teacher who allowed her students to run barefoot during physical education class; three days for a Pahoa High and Intermediate teacher for yelling at a vice principal and using profanity; three days for a Wai­luku Elementary teacher who used "excessive force" when grabbing a student by the back of the neck; and two days for a King Kekaulike teacher who shared private health information with another student, resulting in a "disruption of learning."

The DOE also released disciplinary information for executive officers, none of whom were suspended in 2010-11. Two, however, were terminated.

Waipahu High business manager Warren Harada was fired for stealing nearly $500,000 from the school over several years. He subsequently pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for theft and money laundering.

Also terminated in 2010-11 was a vice principal at Ilima Intermediate who was under investigation for "mismanaging school funds," according to the department. The DOE did not release more information.

Statistics on terminations and suspensions of executive officers in previous years were not immediately available.

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peanutgallery wrote:
Nothing like being able to hide behind HSTA. The problem for teachers is that while HSTA shields them from accountability, it also prevents the good ones from being financially rewarded. HSTA , other than protecting bad apples, has not done well by our public school teachers. The level of discourse between teachers and the public is at an all-time high, as parents are bombarded with evening news shots of teachers demanding more, and more, and more. The public has finally asked itself: what have we gotten in return, after all the years of this nonsense?
on December 22,2012 | 05:01AM
dedicatedteacher7 wrote:
IRT peanutgallery: teachers are not demanding more, more and more. The State is doing that just fine with RTTT intiatives. which promised more money, but for who? Certainly not us. More work, and no restoration of the cuts made back to its original level, including 10% medical. Then we would like a increase to actually keep up with inflation. Yes, those of us working hard would like to be financially rewarded or we just will work the hours paid for and then concentrate on earning money through other jobs. What are the teachers getting in return for excellent work?
on December 22,2012 | 05:22AM
IkaikaClothingofHNL wrote:
No sense responding to someone who is part of the problem @dedicatedteacher7. It's people like you who continue to make a difference with those children who care about their lives and their future! It's hard doing the dirty work that should be done at home but then again, that's another conversation on it's own. Teacher's will always have the fingers pointed at them because they have been scrutinized from the beginning. Just be thankful that the reader you're responding to is a perfect person who doesn't make mistakes and has a perfect life! I wish there were more people like that in this state! Happy Holiday's to you and enjoy your vacation....Well earned!
on December 22,2012 | 05:50AM
dedicatedteacher7 wrote:
Thank you and the best to you and yours as well.
on December 22,2012 | 07:17AM
jomama wrote:
Point isn't the dedicated teachers, its the UNDEDICATED ones. Any organization of 12,500 employees will have some bad apples that need to be terminated. That the DOE fires barely anyone, ever, is a pretty good sign that there is simply no accountability.
on December 22,2012 | 12:41PM
bobbob wrote:
obvious to see by anyone without blinders on, at least. The teachers have become accustomed to their blindfolds and will okabe's leadership as evidenced by their apathy during the last vote and the fact that only 11% or so of them voted him in.
on December 22,2012 | 05:34PM
bobbob wrote:
How dedicated are you if you're posting every day during NORMAL hours when you should be teaching?
on December 22,2012 | 05:17PM
dedicatedteacher7 wrote:
I do not post everyday and do not do so during normal school hours. Today is Saturday--have a problem with that?
on December 22,2012 | 05:35PM
bender wrote:
Forget inflationi. The new model to be used by Social Seucrity uses a different index and I'm sure its use will become more widespread because it reduces those COLA increases. BTW, according to this newspaper the state did offer to restore the 5% lost plus 2% increases over the next 2 years. So you're statement about "no restoration" isn't correct.. What excelent work are you referring to. Test scores remain low so that can hardly be considered excellent work.
on December 22,2012 | 06:09AM
danielpecoraro wrote:
My excellent work, you teacher basher. Look me up pal. I don't hide behind a screen name. I teach at Campbell High School. Come by and I'll show you student test scores which consistantly increase. Also, do you really think test scores are an accurate reflection of education? If so, lets just use I.Q scores to accept students into college and the workforce. Get real Bender. You are a static character.
on December 22,2012 | 06:49AM
bobbob wrote:
I don't think 5% 2% is very much. it probably restores inflation cost for one year. In reality, teachers and other govt. workers took a huge pay reduction over the past few years in real terms (furlough salary freeze). Also, I do understand the push against student test scores being used as a metric, because I do not agree that this is the best metric, and because of apathetic parental support nowadays. If I was a teacher, I'd push for a real raise that at least maintains the status quo in terms of purchasing power. On this, I can agree with you.
on December 22,2012 | 05:37PM
WesleySMori wrote:
Touche, "DANIELPECORARO"!!! "TOUCHE"!!!!!! "GOD BLESS HAWAII & AMERICA"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on December 22,2012 | 05:47PM
sjean wrote:
Bender, what do you do for a living? Repair potholes?
on December 22,2012 | 07:14AM
Ambergris23 wrote:
Probably goes on "benders"...
on December 22,2012 | 07:41AM
HAL9000 wrote:
He is a fender bender.
on December 22,2012 | 09:50AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Perhaps a tender fender bender and mender. Or a lender of unknown gender. OK, that's the end, er.
on December 22,2012 | 11:13AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Oh yeah, bender's got a blender, too.
on December 22,2012 | 11:16AM
dedicatedteacher7 wrote:
Student scores are not an accurate reflection of what the teachers are doing for students. YOu need to build the whole person.
on December 22,2012 | 07:30AM
allie wrote:
then show this in some objective way...no more shibai and excuse making
on December 22,2012 | 08:26AM
danielpecoraro wrote:
who is making excuses allie? education is qualitative, not quantitative. I'm very interested to know how you gained your expertise in education. Or are you a sideline hero, who thinks because you might have graduated H.S, you know everything about education.
on December 22,2012 | 11:55AM
jomama wrote:
its both qualitative and quantitative. What did you get on your SATs?
on December 22,2012 | 12:37PM
danielpecoraro wrote:
Jomama- I somehow got a 1410, back when 1600 was the best. What is your point?
on December 22,2012 | 07:18PM
bobbob wrote:
I disagree with many of your other posts, but agree with this one. And it is not fair to solely rely on teachers. Unfortunately many parents simply do not care or are drugged out or a broken family, so they cannot provide the support the child needs.
on December 22,2012 | 05:39PM
ichiban wrote:
dedicatedteacher7==The last offer the state put on the table had the restoration of the cuts plus an increase in pay. Guess your union failed to tell you this. Oh, and HSTA also was given the chance to negotiate further on the details of the contract in early Dec., but nixed it until middle Jan. of 2013. And why does HSTA want to determine disciplinary action for the misconduct of a teacher? That's as bad as the state legislatures voting themselves a raise.
on December 22,2012 | 07:03AM
dedicatedteacher7 wrote:
Restoration and 2% would not restore what we had since the medical was also cut 10%. So, how is it that we are actually getting anything significant?
on December 22,2012 | 07:28AM
Ambergris23 wrote:
It wouldn't even be what teachers received four years ago. The medical increase is not sufficiently covered by the 2% increase.
on December 22,2012 | 07:43AM
ichiban wrote:
Hey, dedicated and amber did you not get the gist of my commentary? Let me simplify---the State made an offer to HSTA with restoration of the cuts plus pay increases. HSTA rebuffed that offer. The State scheduled an early Dec. date to iron out the details in the contract. HSTA SNUBBED the State's offer to rectify the teacher's contract. So you saw the contract HSTA first rejected. But you'll never know what concessions the state would offer if HSTA was willing to seat at the negotiating table. The state budget forecast was recently released where Gov. Abercrombie said he needed $439 million increase in spending for 2013. Blame HSTA, the teachers are now behind the eight-ball. GET MY DRIFT NOW???
on December 22,2012 | 11:54AM
bobbob wrote:
due to inflation, the government spending (along with everyone else's) will rise every year, just to maintain the status quo. Official CPI, similar to unemployment numbers are manipulated. If you look at the pricing of normal items that people buy on a day to day basis, you're looking at a 5-8% yearly increase.
on December 22,2012 | 05:43PM
bobbob wrote:
I can agree with this. The 5% restoration 2% pay "raises" does not come close to even maintaining the status quo from 3-4 years ago. In real terms, they were hit by the 5% cut probably 5% inflation over the past few years. Not to mention the 50% in medical insurance costs. 5% 2% doesn't come close to covring it. The other points I may agree with, but not the compensation issue.
on December 22,2012 | 05:41PM
bobbob wrote:
teachers complain about the pay and HSTA, but yet love to hide behind their shield and look the other way when fellow teachers engage in misconduct. Also, Ive noticed a fair number of "teachers' that love to post all day during "teaching hours". So are they really teaching or surfing the internet and posting on SA comment boards?
on December 22,2012 | 05:17PM
dedicatedteacher7 wrote:
I do not condone bad behavior of other teachers, nor do I post during school hours.
on December 22,2012 | 05:38PM
danielpecoraro wrote:
Sometimes I read the articles with my students and we post under my name as a class. Is that okay with you?
on December 22,2012 | 06:51PM
allie wrote:
The standards and expectations for our "teachers" are very low out here and it shows. Truth is, the better educated students at UH don't go into education. We women have many more choices today than teaching. Bottom half of the graduating class typically teaches if they get no other job.
on December 22,2012 | 08:25AM
dedicatedteacher7 wrote:
Where do you get this from? I am amazed at you comments.
on December 22,2012 | 05:39PM
bobbob wrote:
Your comments are typically misinformed, but I think generally speaking, this is the truth. As it stands right now, I CAN become a teacher. However, a teacher cannot do what I do. Not unless they have a specific degree, set of credentials, and years of relevant work experience. As far as teachers "working to the rule" and crying about working "extra time", HELLO, what profession or field DOESN'T do that? Hell, there are many state and city workers that unofficially work "off the clock" even though they are salary overtime. FACT.
on December 22,2012 | 05:47PM
HAL9000 wrote:
YOu have gotten the worst educaitonal system in the USA> 4 years of pay cuts, medical insurance up 110% and rising. Good job governor and the people who support him.
on December 22,2012 | 09:49AM
IkaikaClothingofHNL wrote:
As a supporter of all educators at all levels in Hawai'i, it saddens me to see these negative stories about Teachers being printed. If you are going to print them why not balance them out with some positive stories about Teachers? Like Mr. John Doe, who paid for a Pizza Party for his class because they helped clean a playground in their school community or Mrs. Joan Doe, who took her group of kids to a bonding trip as a reward for completing a strenuous project or Mrs. Joanette Doe, an AP Science Teacher who has had 400 or so students pass her class and earn credits for college while in their junior year of high school? It's stories like these that give educators a bad wrap! If you're going to print or share these, be fair! There are thousands of feel good stories out there but again, we just take them all for granted while they earn barely 40k a year to try to encourage students who may or may not care about their education. Thank you to all the Teachers who continue to make a difference despite what the media has done to the integrity of your hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence. Happy Holidays to all of you and yours! -A Supporter of Education & Values of building a better Hawai'i
on December 22,2012 | 05:44AM
Bdpapa wrote:
As an advocate for teachers, I applaud your feelings. Happy Holidays to you and yours! Even you peanutgallery.
on December 22,2012 | 06:06AM
bender wrote:
Yeah, let's not print the truth, let's just sweep it under the carpet and maintain the myth that teachers are squeeky clean. Face it, they come from our socieity and have the same frailties as the rest of us.
on December 22,2012 | 06:10AM
Bdpapa wrote:
No doubt about that. But, when's the last time other State departments and agencies put out a report like this? I've don't remember ever seeing one.
on December 22,2012 | 06:44AM
dedicatedteacher7 wrote:
A parent that accompanied our trip to nationals indicated she never knew what we do for the students, and she was going tot ell her friends that if they didn't appreciate them, they should. After seeing what I did for her and other students, she realized that teachers are not given their due respect.
on December 22,2012 | 07:32AM
bobbob wrote:
Easy to make stuff up on comment boards. I could say the exact opposite.
on December 22,2012 | 05:18PM
dedicatedteacher7 wrote:
Why would I have made that up? It is a true story and you should not bash those that do extra for the students...much extra....
on December 22,2012 | 05:41PM
bobbob wrote:
I can agree with this. As with anything else, A LOT easier to focus on the 1 negative thing, than the 100 positive.
on December 22,2012 | 05:48PM
Malani wrote:
Easy to complain when we are not the teachers who has to be in the classrooms with about 20-25 students to teach. Easy to complain when we leave the consuling and the discipline to the teachers while the parents are free to go work knowing that someone else has to teach their kids. Easy to complain when you know that your kids are not at home after school doing their homework because you allow them to linger at the Malls. Easy to complain about the teachers hearing only one side of the story, from your kids. Easy to complain that 5 days a week you have to work to support your family and it's the teachers job to teach my kids, that's what you the teachers get paid for. etc, etc, etc, So I ask, your boss wants you work some overtime for free every week but you got to get home because the housework need to be done because your kids didn't do what you told them to do when they got home from school. Would you want to work for free? I know what I am talking about because I am surrounded by many of the above kids where I live. So I ask again, what role does the parents play in the education of their children besides the mentality It's the teachers job?
on December 22,2012 | 07:17AM
Bdpapa wrote:
The parents play a major role in education. It doesn't take but 5 minutes to get your child in gear and settled after school and before school. A parent could set up guidelines, study schedules, recreationalboundaries etc. to have their child ready when entering the school environment. It is the teacher's role to have lesson plans and a good learning environment ready.
on December 22,2012 | 07:26AM
bobbob wrote:
I can agree with this, and many parents don't. I also understand the position of the teachers against an evaluation system because of this. Parents play a huge role in their child's development (or at least used to) and teachers are seeing what's going on. Nowadays, ALL teaching is expected to be done in the classroom, which is doomed to failure. Before, teaching only STARTED in the classrooms, and was taken home and expanded upon by the child studying and parental involvement.
on December 22,2012 | 05:32PM
IkaikaClothingofHNL wrote:
Whoa 20-25 students? My brother is a Teacher at a Central District High School and they have classes that average 30-35. Some as high as 42. To take that beating they take from a most knowledgeable general public, the students (who don't care about their education nor their future), the parents (who aren't doing their job at home), and low pay for the cost of living in Hawai'i is absurd! A teacher that is caring, loving, and committed to their students should be appreciated with dignity and respect not only by the people they work for, but by the people they strive to make better! Unfortunately dignity and respect doesn't pay the bills last time I checked. Get the entire story of the life of a Teacher and why....then make that front page material for the SA. Until then, Teachers, NO MATTER WHAT, will always get a bad wrap because the choice of storyline's that are passed on to the public. Wish it was different. But again, thank you to all those Teachers who do what you do! To those who don't..... You're the problem!
on December 22,2012 | 12:26PM
dedicatedteacher7 wrote:
Yes, could be 36-40 in a class. In high schools, teachers have about five periods a day, so one could see 150 or so students daily. Yes, that's a real easy load.
on December 22,2012 | 05:44PM
Changalang wrote:
Wil's leadership is consistent in not being able to produce a contract beyond the "last, best offer" from the State. It is as if he works for the State as well. Hmmmm. It is the teachers own fault for voting in a union stooge that works for the best interest against his constituents. He is paid by teachers "dues" as well. Guess they don't teach a course in common sense when one pursues an education degree. Last posting on this as a teacher/student supporter out of "help" because of poor outcomes in HSTA private business.
on December 22,2012 | 07:29AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
We need to discriminate between activity and accomplishment. We got a lot of activity from the teachers but the public school test scores are right up there with backwoods rural southern states despite multi-billion dollar budgets. Measure the results - that's the key. I'm not much impressed with folks who work hard but fail to accomplish their task which in this case is education of children.
on December 22,2012 | 07:34AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Part of the problem comes from the curriculum development at UH. They come out with all these creative ideas but, they themselves, have lost touch with the classroom environment. You are so right on, when it comes to activities. These students need classroom work not assemblies, visits to the pumpkin patch etc. They need basics reading writing and arithmetic. They need to lear life long study habits. They need to be tested regularly and held accountable for poor performance. Any langiage taught should be taught correctly, especially English.
on December 22,2012 | 07:40AM
bobbob wrote:
Some people may act like it's so incredibly difficult to become a teacher, but the fact remains that you just need a bachelor's degree to start teaching. I see a bunch of teachers on this message board on their high horses proclaiming how difficult and how special you need to be become a teach. Fact remains, all you need is a bachelor's degree, ANY bachelor's degree. You can glide by in college with a psych degree and become a teacher. Hell, I can become a teacher. A teacher cannot do my job without a specific degree and certifications. No bull, just simple facts.
on December 22,2012 | 05:29PM
danielpecoraro wrote:
Then do it chump
on December 22,2012 | 06:36PM
Wardog wrote:
Bobbob is right in this comment...
on December 22,2012 | 08:07PM
Bdpapa wrote:
He can become a teacher. But his skill level would be at the minimum because he didn't go through the teacher development taught in the College of Education.
on December 22,2012 | 09:23PM
allie wrote:
totally agree
on December 22,2012 | 08:26AM
HAL9000 wrote:
I know of a teacher in Maui who was put on 5.5 months paid suspension because a violent special ed. student lied to the principal and his parents about excessive force. Instead of investigating the incident, and getting a statement from the 4 teacher aides, Vice Principal, and two other principals who all witnessed this incident, the new principal believed the lieing special ed. student, and kicked the teacher out on paid leave. The DOE is the worst investigatory body in the USA. This same special education student knocked down a teacher's aide two weeks ago, and he still gets to go to the same school. I hope his parents do not have guns in their home. The DOE does not know how to take care of disciplinary action against violent students. They only know how to put teachers on leave.
on December 22,2012 | 09:48AM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Its called CYA. They side with the accuser just in case.
on December 22,2012 | 01:19PM
bobbob wrote:
yep. Even if the teacher is at fault. Put the teacher on paid leave perpetually, then collect retirement benefits afterwards. It's the HSTA way.
on December 22,2012 | 05:25PM
holumuahawaii wrote:
What kind of a newspaper that is not a tabloid, that publishes a "Teachers Avoid Firings..." story? What's next? "Police Officers Not Indicted For Brutality So Far...?" "Firefighters Do Not Take Clothes Off For Annual Calendar?" "No Government Employees Caught Napping?" This is not journalism....This is titillation.
on December 22,2012 | 12:25PM
bobbob wrote:
What kind of teaching force publishes a firing rate of 0% out of 12,500 teachers? Oh, yeah, the HSTA! Working against teacher drug tests (even though agreed to in contracts) and against teacher firings~
on December 22,2012 | 05:24PM
Wardog wrote:
Dumb post holomua
on December 22,2012 | 08:08PM
Toyuki wrote:
It is interesting when some of the public does not know that the teachers union are teachers running their own union. Teachers and HSTA are ONE. Teachers nominate and vote for their board members, who are teachers. HSTA is united!
on December 22,2012 | 12:51PM
st1d wrote:
one has to admire the quality of teachers in hawaii. to have gone through the year without a single teacher identified as incompetent or unskilled is an achievement to be celebrated. no wonder our children score in the bottom 20% with such dedicated teachers.

kids can't be first with teachers pushing them out of the way in the dash for cash.

on December 22,2012 | 03:06PM
bobbob wrote:
yep. If the bottom 20% has 0% of teachers that's incompetent, then imagine the top 20%. They must have negative 100% of teachers that's incompetent. Oh wait, that doesn't make sense... Oh wait, this is the HSTA. That means the 0% incompetent probably means 30%. Carry on.
on December 22,2012 | 05:21PM
danielpecoraro wrote:
Again bottom 20% of what? I.Q scores?
on December 22,2012 | 06:53PM
danielpecoraro wrote:
st1d- i think the chlamydia has affected your cognitive process.
on December 22,2012 | 07:06PM
st1d wrote:
the children in hawaii public schools consistently score in the bottom 20% in national public education tests. that works out to the bottom ten of fifty states. hsta members must be proud of that fact while prodding their union to negotiate raises for hawaii public school teachers.

kids can't be first if teachers are pushing them out of the way in the hsta dash for cash.

on December 22,2012 | 07:31PM
HAL9000 wrote:
The governor did give Merit Pay to excellent and very good teachers. In fact, he gave Merit Pay to all teachers. They all got a pay cut for 2 years equaling 10%, and he even upped their medical insurance costs for some to over 110%. So there, Hawaii, you have rewarded education once again.
on December 22,2012 | 08:01PM
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