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Waipahu High School Principal Keith Hayashi recommended as interim superintendent

Susan Essoyan

A Board of Education committee is unanimously recommending that Waipahu High School Principal Keith Hayashi become interim superintendent after Superintendent Christina Kishimoto steps down July 31.

The selection was revealed in a report posted online this afternoon for a special meeting of the board that is set for June 3, and if it goes forward, would be subject to a full vote by the Board of Education at its general business meeting on June 17.

The committee recommended Hayashi take over on Aug. 1, with an annual salary of $210,000. The interim position is expected to last for six to eight months while the search for a permanent superintendent is under way.

“I am confident that he is the best candidate to lead our schools through the difficult days ahead,” Board of Education Chairwoman Catherine Payne said in response to a request for comment. “He is an accomplished leader who understands all levels of our system.”

Four of the Board of Education’s nine voting members served on the Transition Committee: Payne, Human Resources Committee Chairman Dwight Takeno, Finance and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bruce Voss and Student Achievement Committee Chairwoman Margaret Cox.

“After careful consideration and much deliberation, the Transition Committee finds that Keith Hayashi is the candidate best suited for the interim superintendent position,” the committee reported.

Fourteen people applied for the job and the committee said it interviewed five with the most promise. The candidates’ identities were not revealed, but Hawaii State Teachers Association President Corey Rosenlee announced in April that he had applied.

Hayashi, a well respected and award-winning educator, has led elementary, middle and high schools, and also served as a complex area superintendent, resource teacher and as interim superintendent during the last transition.

“My 32 years as an instructional leader at the school, district and state levels, as well as an alumnus of Hawaii public schools, parent of a Waipahu High School graduate, lifelong Hawaii resident and a proud public school employee, motivates me to seek this critical leadership role at this critical time,” Hayashi wrote in a letter to the board.

“In this transition from pandemic-affected learning and leadership changes, HIDOE’s teachers, school administrators, school support staff, complex and state office leaders, and student leaders need a steady and experienced leader to heal and unify,” he wrote.

The search process allows the interim superintendent to apply for the permanent position as superintendent.

The committee said the most important issues facing the interim superintendent are:

>> assessing learning loss and social-emotional needs of each student and developing plans to address those needs

>> developing and communicating clear and timely plans to promote as much safe in-person learning as possible while still offering the flexibility of quality distance learning or hybrid models

>> restoring trust and confidence in leadership through clear, timely and transparent guidance and communication to students, families, staff and the public.

To read the committee’s report and see Hayashi’s cover letter and resume, click here.

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