The State Board of Education last night questioned the Governor’s authority to reject their rules which would have permitted smoking on school grounds by students aged 15 and older.
Gov. George Ariyoshi this week returned the board’s rules — without his signature — and thereby killed the one-year trial plan scheduled to start in January.
Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-13th Dist.) said Ariyoshi’s "veto" — unless challenged — could kill the elected school board. He suggested the board take the matter to court.
"If the Governor can override the board’s decision, what is the sense of it existing, let alone meeting?
"Either you run the school system with the sanction of the electorate or you do not. To let this ‘veto’ stand unchallenged is to let the Governor run the school system through the back door," Abercrombie said.
He also called Ariyoshi’s decision "the worst kind of politics because he’s fishing for votes."
Board members Ruth Tabrah, Marion Saunders, Hubert Minn and Darrow Aiona opposed Ariyoshi’s decision and lamented that he hadn’t discussed it with them.
"If we’d been allowed the courtesy to sit with him, we’d have pointed out that the present situation builds disrespect for rules and law," Mrs. Saunders said.
She was referring to the present no-smoking rule which students openly violate in many schools by gathering in the lavatories to smoke.
Board members said their approval of the smoking plan was to protect rights of nonsmokers by clearing the smoking students out of school lavatories.
Mrs. Tabrah suggested that perhaps there should be no smoking by anyone, anywhere on school campuses. Larry Zenker, assistant attorney general, said the Governor has the power to reject the proposed rule amendment under the Administrative Procedures Act.