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Incoming education superintendent immersed in Arizona controversy

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    Christina Kishimoto addressed the Board Education on May 11. Kishimoto is the superintendent and chief executive officer of Gilbert Public Schools in Arizona.

The woman selected to lead Hawaii’s public schools is at the center of a nearly $1 million controversy with her current district in Arizona.

Auditors have found Gilbert Public Schools over-counted enrollment figures under Christina Kishimoto’s leadership, Hawaii News Now reported Thursday. Because Arizona schools get state funding based on student attendance, the state overpaid the district $962,767.

The state now wants its money back.

The over-counting started before Kishimoto took over leadership of Gilbert’s schools and continued the two years she was there, former Gilbert Public Schools Board Member Julie Smith said.

“I don’t believe it was intentional,” Smith said. “If the audit is done and the appeal is done and the state says no the district has to pay it. Responsibility does stop with the superintendent.”

Kishimoto did not respond to attempts to reach her for comment.

Her last day working for the district in Gilbert, a Phoenix suburb, is June 30.

Kishimoto first day as superintendent of the Hawaii State Department of Education is Aug. 1.

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