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Former Waipahu school principal pleads not guilty to record-tampering charges

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 1:25 p.m. HST, Sep 9, 2013

A former Waipahu elementary school principal pleaded not guilty to record-tampering charges in Ewa District Court this morning.

Florentina Smith, 69, waived her first appearance in court. Her attorney, Della Au Belatti, entered the pleas on her behalf.

District Court Judge Russel Nagata approved a request for a jury trial. The case will head to trial Sept. 23 in Circuit Court.

The state Attorney General's office has charged Smith with two counts of tampering with a government record, a misdemeanor. She was charged via summons and not arrested.

The state alleges the crimes were committed on Nov. 12, 2011, and the following week on Nov. 19, while Smith was serving as principal of August Ahrens Elementary. The complaint does not include any details of the alleged crimes.

Belatti declined further comment after today's hearing as did state Deputy Attorney General Christopher Young.

Smith had been placed on administrative leave in January 2012 as the state investigated allegations against her. Sources told the Star-Advertiser at the time that Smith was investigated for allegedly directing a teacher to file a per diem reimbursement claim for training that did not occur. 

Smith's employment with the Department of Education ended in September 2012, a department spokesman said. She had been with the DOE since 1971.

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