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Foundation pulls grant in search for new Hawaii schools superintendent

The Harold K.L. Castle Foundation said today that it has pulled back a $50,500 grant that had been awarded to help the Board of Education hire a search firm to recruit the next schools superintendent.

The announcement comes on the heels of Monday’s decision by retired Principal Darrel Galera to resign from the Board of Education to apply for the schools chief position.

“Recent developments led the Foundation to have deep concerns that one candidate may have an unfair advantage over other applicants,” the nonprofit said in a statement today. “Therefore, we have informed the Board of Education that we have suspended our grant payment. We remain hopeful that a solution can be found that restores the full integrity of the search process. Our students and our schools deserve nothing less.”

Terrence George, the foundation’s president and CEO, said while the grant had been awarded, no money had been paid to date.

The BOE had agreed to a $50,500 contract with Iowa-based executive search firm Ray and Associates to assist in the search for a replacement for Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi, whose term ends June 30.

The firm issued a report earlier this week, recommending job characteristics and a job description for the post. The BOE unanimously adopted the recommendation at a meeting Tuesday, and the job advertisement was scheduled to be posted Friday.

BOE members tried to quell concerns earlier this week about Galera, who spent over 30 years with the Department of Education, having an edge over other applicants.

Gov. David Ige appointed Galera to the school board in October to fill a vacancy. The governor also tapped Galera last year to lead a 19-member advisory team he tasked with developing a “blueprint” to overhaul the state’s public school system.

“While we are encouraged that a candidate like Mr. Galera, with his wealth of experience, would be interested in applying for the superintendent position, we know that there are many qualified candidates out there, and we hope that they are encouraged to consider applying,” BOE member Patricia Bergin said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Mr. Galera will have to go through the same screening process as all other applicants, and every applicant will be considered on an equal playing field.”

Before joining the board, Galera had been critical of the DOE’s leadership under Matayoshi.

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