A 45-year-old teacher who had just begun work at Voyager Charter School was arrested early Tuesday at a Waikiki condo on charges of having sex with a student in Arizona several years ago.
Deborah Hoshiyama had been teaching special education for just six school days and was immediately suspended, according to Principal Jeff Vilardi.
“We found out at about 8:30 a.m. this morning,” Vilardi said. “No one had any idea [about the allegations]. The decision was made to let the due process play out and she was suspended with pay.”
Hoshiyama received her license to teach in Hawaii on Oct. 1 from the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, according to its database.
On Oct. 20, a grand jury arrest warrant for her was issued in Arizona by the Maricopa County Attorney’s office, but she had already left the state, according to the U.S. Marshals.
The warrant alleges that she had a sexual relationship with a minor from about Aug. 1, 2007, to April 11, 2008, while she was a teacher in Avondale, Ariz., according to the marshals. She faces five counts of sexual conduct with a minor.
U.S. Marshals tracked her to Honolulu and the U.S. Marshals Task Force members conducted surveillance and arrested her at 5:15 a.m. Tuesday at her residence on Ala Wai Boulevard.
Hoshiyama, who is also known as Deborah Nicholson, was booked at the Honolulu Police Department and held pending a court appearance and extradition hearing back to Arizona.
Voyager completed three reference checks on her, all of them positive, and on Nov. 5 submitted her name to the Department of Education for a criminal background check, the principal said.
“She was cleared to begin work starting the 7th,” Vilardi said. “We have the documentation that supports our claim that she was released to work. We never start anyone without the proper clearance. Voyager would never do anything to put any student at risk.”
Department of Education spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz, however, said Hoshiyama’s application was still being processed, and she had not been approved or hired. The DOE handles special education for the charter schools and hires and pays those teachers.
“I can confidently say the department did not give the green light to move forward as her application was still being processed,” Dela Cruz said. “The first part of her criminal background check was completed only yesterday afternoon. We were just about to get into the second part,” which includes fingerprinting.
“At this point she was not an active employee of the department,” Dela Cruz said Tuesday.
The license issued last month by the Hawaii Teacher Standards Board, which is separate from the Department of Education, said her fields are special education, reading and teaching English as a second language.