Search may begin for new schools boss

Hawaii’s Board of Education announced it plans to start discussions to search for a new superintendent during its general business meeting Tuesday.

This action has left some in the department shocked by the decision to conduct a search instead of offering Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi a contract extension.

“This is the first time that the board has not indicated an extension,” said Donalyn Dela Cruz, Hawaii Department of Education spokeswoman. “We’re all mystified by what’s happening.”

Matayoshi’s contract expires on June 30. She has served as the state’s superintendent since 2010.

“This is an ideal time to transition to new leadership that will help the DOE continue its efforts to reduce the achievement gap and prioritize achievement for all students,” said BOE Chairman Lance Mizumoto.

It is anticipated the BOE will conduct its search over the coming months, with the hopes that a successful candidate will begin employment on July 1, 2017, according to a press release.

It’s a surprising move by the BOE, according to Dela Cruz, and a move that Matayoshi and the department didn’t foresee.

“Many in the department are very surprised by this,” Dela Cruz said. “But our understanding is that (Matayoshi) wants to continue to serve to Hawaii’s keiki. But if the board decides to go in a different correction, than that’s their prerogative. The board didn’t indicate an extension. The board sets the policy and direction of the department, so there will be many paying close attention for the next couple of months.”

In June 2014, Matayoshi received a three-year contract and just last month, was given a positive annual rating by the Hawaii State Board of Education, saying that Matayoshi “exceeded expectations” for the third year in a row.

“During Superintendent Matayoshi’s term, the Department of Education faced numerous challenges and initiated substantial changes, making nationally recognized progress in improving student achievement and instituting reform,” the release said.

With Matayoshi, as indicated by the BOE, not given an extension, many people in the HIDOE are wondering what the direction and course of action will be for the future.

“I think a lot of people will be listening to see what the board wants to do,” Dela Cruza said.

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