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Former Waipahu elementary principal pleads no contest to record-tampering charges

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 07:59 p.m. HST, Oct 21, 2013

A former Waipahu elementary school principal who changed her not-guilty plea and pleaded no contest to record-tampering charges in Circuit Court this morning was ordered to pay a fine.

The state Attorney General's office had charged Florentina Smith with two counts of tampering with a government record, a misdemeanor. Smith, 69, was sentenced by Judge Patrick Border, according to her attorney, Eric Seitz.

Seitz said the pleas have been deferred and Smith will make a $500 contribution to the state's general fund. 

The state alleged 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 did not include any details of the alleged crimes.

Smith last month had pleaded not guilty to the charges and her case was scheduled to head to a jury trial.

She 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. 

Seitz said Smith explained to the judge that she had made efforts to get compensation for some of her teachers who were doing extra work but couldn't get paid for it.

The payments amounted to $200 for each of nine staff members.

Smith's employment with the Department of Education ended in September 2012. She had worked for the DOE since 1971.

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kaupena wrote:
Too many Principals in Hawaii are getting caught for doing something that they shouldn't be doing.
on October 21,2013 | 04:50PM
HOSSANA wrote:
Can anyone convey to me why the Principal at Kaiser High School was recently put on administrative leave w/pay pending further investigation?????
on October 21,2013 | 05:38PM
joseph007 wrote:
DOE policy of looking the other way.
on October 22,2013 | 09:19AM
Hoppy wrote:
She's lucky to be getting off so easy. To me, this means she knew what she did was wrong, and tried to cover it up by attempting to alter the paper work to throw off the state investigations team. She must of done a poor job, or it was just too much to cover up. Her only course of action was to pled no contest. I sure hope the DOE fired her, and didn't let her retire collecting benefits such as medical and a pension. If she had gotten away with it, I consider it stealing from the state. Taking money for trainings that didn't occur, what was she thinking? Wait, that's right, she wasn't thinking.
on October 21,2013 | 07:54PM
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