Hilo attorney Brian De Lima is the island’s representative to the State Board of Education, which was appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie. De Lima said Monday afternoon the State Board of Education does not have direct jurisdiction over Waimea Public Conversion Charter School, which is governed first by the nonprofit Ho’okako’o Corp., with appeals possible to the Charter School Review Panel. He said decisions made by the Charter School Review Panel could be appealed to the State Board.
De Lima said he has known Waimea Middle School principal John Colson for at least a decade. He said Colson’s whole focus is on the students and maximizing their ability to learn. DeLima said he feels an unfortunate decision was made by the Ho’okako’o Corp. in dismissing Colson or in asking him to resign–whatever wording is being used.
He says the Board of Education now lives by a simple principle–is their decision one that will enhance student achievement. De Lima said he believes the recent decision in changing leadership at Waimea Middle School was not made with the best interests of the student. He said it’s time for the board of Ho’okako’o Corp. to admit they made an error, reconsider their decision and gets the focus back on what is best for the students.
He also said he knows the staff at Waimea Middle School, those who worked with John Colson, are now focused on the students and dedicated to getting the focus back on the students and their learning.
He also said perhaps the community may rethink how they want their school managed. He said Ho’okako’o Corp. brings in additional funding to Waimea Middle School and all the charter schools which it manages, but he also acknowledged it’s a challenge for a board on Oahu to truly know what’s going on at a school islands away.
Interim Principal Megan McCorriston, who is also the board president of the Ho’okako’o Corp., is not at the Waimea Middle School campus and not expected back until Thursday and so far has not been available for comment on De Lima’s statements or on the fact that more than half of the students at Waimea Middle School did not come to school Monday but took part in home school learning.
De Lima has also recently been involved with issues in converting Laupahoehoe School into a public conversion charter school. However, their plan is to have a local school board based in Laupahoehoe, rather than an Oahu-based board. De Lima said that movement started because the small enrollment put Laupahoehoe School on the list of schools for possible closure–which is where they will be if they do not convert to a charter.