Hawaii commission removes board of Oahu charter school

HONOLULU — The Hawaii Charter School Commission is replacing the board of an Oahu school following concerns about its failure to manage the school’s financial performance.

The commission voted last month to seek new appointments to the board over the Ka Waihona o Ka Na’auao charter school in Nanakuli, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

“Their task will be to look at the current problems that have been identified, to clean it up and get the school back on an even keel in terms of the regulations and all of the requirements,” commission Chairman John Kim said.

The Hawaiian culture-focused school was founded in 2002. It serves 644 students in kindergarten through the eighth grade.

Lehua Abrigo, the board’s chairwoman, told commissioners last week that her biggest concern was the lack of communication or transparency.

“It seemed that decisions were being made by a few on behalf of the board but without, really, board input,” Abrigo said. “That was the hardest part, not knowing what was going on. . I do feel we really did fail in what we were supposed to do in providing oversight to the school.”

The commission has rated the school as “high risk” for its financial performance for the last two fiscal years. Its ratio of assets to liabilities has “called into question the fiscal solvency of the school,” the commission said.

The commission has also questioned “pay advances” of $83,000 to the school’s founder and other administrators, and $122,800 in “unknown expenses” last school year.

Ka Waihona has passed its independent financial audits, said Alvin Parker, the school’s founder and head. He noted that he is owed about $200,000 in back pay because his salary has not changed since 2007.

“There’s money owed to one person, and that’s me,” Parker said. “Everyone else got paid according to what they are supposed to get.”

The school expects to be on better financial footing at the end of the year with its new off-campus division that has 100 students enrolled. Parker expects enrollment and the school’s balance to double next year.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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