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HSTA says it’s time for superintendent Christina Kishimoto to go

                                Christina Kishimoto


    Christina Kishimoto

The Hawaii State Teachers Association this morning said it opposes the renewal of superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s contract and intends to testify against doing so to the Board of Education this week.

The board’s human resources committee is scheduled to meet Thursday morning, and its agenda includes an action item concerning the superintendent’s contract. The committee’s decision would be forwarded to the full board for consideration.

HSTA said its board of directors, made up of volunteer teachers, voted unanimously to ask the BOE not to renew Kishimoto’s contract after months of ongoing frustration.

The union had a long list of complaints about Kishimoto’s performance during the pandemic, from her unwillingness to bargain to her refusal to enforce mask use and the 6-foot distancing guidelines until instructed to do so by the BOE.

“Hawaii’s Board of Education on numerous occasions has had to publicly change or rescind decisions made by the superintendent,” said HSTA president Corey Rosenlee.

HSTA also took issue with many unilateral decisions she made, which it said included forcing teachers without in-person instruction responsibilities to report to campus for work, and terminating pay differentials for special education teachers.

Additionally, HSTA says she failed to provide adequate and clear communication to department employees on a timely basis.

In a survey of principals released on Monday, HSTA says 58% did not feel the department provided them with enough information to communicate to students, parents and communities during the pandemic.

“Our teachers every day are risking their lives doing their best to teach, and they want to know that the superintendent has their back as well,” said Rosenlee. “And whether it’s forcing teachers to go to school even though they weren’t teaching students and could have [taught] from home; whether it’s telling 800 teachers and 1,300 DOE employees they were going to lose their jobs — it’s just been this consistent theme of not showing the teachers across the state that she cares for them.”

Last August, HSTA’s board of directors also passed a no-confidence vote on Kishimoto’s leadership in safely reopening schools.

The BOE appointed Kishimoto as superintendent in 2017, with a three-year contract that began on Aug. 1 of that year. That original contract was extended by another year to July 31 of this year.

Kishimoto did not have extensive comments in response to the HSTA.

“My focus right now is on safely reopening our schools,” Kishimoto said in a statement today.

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