Statement from Terrence George, president and CEO of the Harold K. L. Castle Foundation:
“At the request of the Hawaii State Board of Education, the Harold K.L. Castle Foundation approved a $50,500 grant to support a nationwide superintendent search that was fair, open, and transparent. Funds were to be used to cover the cost of a highly experienced search firm, hired by and reporting only to the Board of Education.
“Recent developments led the Foundation to have deep concerns that one candidate may have an unfair advantage over other applicants. 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.”
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Statement from Darrel Galera:
March 9, 2017
Open Letter Relating to Superintendent Search and Selection Process
The purpose of this letter is to respond to questions and concerns relating to my decision announced on March 6, 2017 to resign from the Board of Education to apply for state superintendent position.
Any claim suggesting that the process is anything less than fully transparent, fair, open, and inclusive is erroneous.
My decision to apply for superintendent was my decision alone. It was not discussed with the Governor nor any member of the Board of Education, until I had already made the decision. Learning of my decision was a surprise to the Governor and to Chairperson of the Board of Education. And I believe that both Chair Mizumoto and the Governor would have preferred that I instead continued to serve as a board member. To be clear, there was no plan involving anyone else.
Any perception that the process is “rigged” based on past events is also wrong and erroneous.
(1) The passage of the federal ESSA law took everyone by surprise as did the Governor’s decision to form an education task force. Although I served as the task force chair, I was not the first choice nor the first person asked to serve as task force chairperson by the Governor.
(2) Although I was appointed to the Board of Education in October 2016, the new vacancy on the Board of Education in October 2016 was a complete surprise. The Governor did not ask for any board member to resign. And the rationale for my appointment was in large part to support alignment of the work of the BOE, DOE, and ESSA task force.
(3) Although I became a member of the board in October 2016, the discussion and decision to initiate a search for a new superintendent occurred before I joined the Board, before I was assigned to committees, and before I was a voting member of any board committee. Subsequently, I was part of a small committee to propose an overall process to be used with the key recommendations being that any such process be fair, transparent, inclusive, and involve a national search. This was preliminary and general planning that in no way provided any advantage.
(4) I was not a member of the Search Committee. Only the three members of the Board of Education Search Committee were involved in the current search process. This is in compliance with the state Sunshine Law. The remaining board members, including myself, were not involved in any decisions relating to the criteria, application and selection process prior to the time I announced my decision. Board members were recently interviewed individually to provide input into desired characteristics for the superintendent position, but I did not participate in such an interview. To be clear, there was no advantage as a result of my service as a board member.
These are challenging times where we see national leaders jump to conclusions, make hasty decisions, or quick judgments without first having the important information. So, there are important lessons here on effective communication and for making decisions and forming judgments based on facts and accurate information. This is what an education system should model.
It is important to emphasize that we have a Board of Education comprised of board members with the highest levels of professionalism, integrity, and commitment for what is best for all students. They deserve nothing less than our full confidence, unwavering trust, and deep appreciation for their voluntary service. The search process has been designed and implemented by the Board’s Search Committee with fidelity and integrity. It is a process that ensures transparency, fairness, and inclusiveness. It is essential that we have the strongest pool of qualified applicants, locally and nationally, so that board members and the process set forward can result in the best leader for our public schools.
The vision set forth in the Hawaii Blueprint for Public Education by students, teachers, principals, parents, and community members across the state is a bold and inspiring one. To achieve this vision, it will be essential that we as a statewide community, come together and provide visionary and courageous leadership to provide our students with what they deserve – the best public education system in the nation.
Former member, Hawaii State Board of Education
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