LIHU‘E — William “Bill” Arakaki will begin serving as the new Kaua‘i and Ni‘ihau representative on the state Board of Education member today, replacing member Margaret Cox.
State BOE Chair Catherine Payne said members are not elected as they were before, but are now appointed by the governor for terms of three years.
“I am thankful that a veteran, accomplished education leader is willing to volunteer for this important role,” Payne said. “William Arakaki’s recent experiences and commitment to service will benefit public education throughout our state.”
According to Payne, Arakaki has volunteered to be on all three board committees: Student Achievement, Finance and Infrastructure and Human Resources, and his term runs through June 30, 2024.
Arakaki is a retired educator who served as the state Department of Education Kaua‘i Complex Area superintendent, a teacher and principal on both Kaua‘i and O‘ahu for a total of 40 years.
However, there are a few educators not happy with this appointment.
“I really felt it was important to voice the concerns I submitted in my testimony and stand behind it,” said Sarah Tochiki, band teacher at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in Puhi.
”His appointment was not the desired outcome. However, I hope Mr. Arakaki will take what those in opposition to his appointment submitted and, not only listen to all stakeholders but take action to remedy things quickly for our Kaua‘i schools.”
Tracy Murakami, a former School Community Council representative at Kapa‘a Middle School and Parent-teacher-Student-Association member at King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School in Hanama‘ulu, sent a letter to the state Senate Education Committee on April 7.
“I feel strongly that you should not confirm Mr. Arakaki to the Board of Education,” wrote Murakami. “Under his leadership as Complex Area Superintendent on Kaua‘i — about a decade until 2020 — we on Kaua‘i experienced dysfunctional principals, low morale among dedicated DOE teachers and staff, and general stagnation. I realize running the DOE is a very-challenging task, but in my opinion Mr. Arakaki ran the Kaua‘i Complex Area poorly.”
Murakami added, “I acknowledge that Mr. Arakaki has years of experience as a DOE administrator and is a kind man. But, I do not see it in his skill set to run such a large organization as the state DOE and to move it forward. He did not run the Kaua‘i Complex Area well — so there is no reason to think he would run the entire state DOE well.”
Arakaki began as a special motivation teacher at Waipahu High School in September of 1980, then moved to Kaua‘i to teach at Kaua‘i High and Intermediate School in September of 1988.
After becoming certified in school administration in 1993, Arakaki served as the interim vice principal of Wilcox Elementary, vice principal at Kapa‘a High and Kapa‘a Middle School, and principal of Waimea High School from 1998 through 2006. Arakaki became the Kauai Complex Area superintendent in 2006, and retired on June 30 of 2020.
According to BOE, Arakaki received the Kaua‘i District Secondary Education Excellence Award in 2005 and the Kaua‘i District Secondary Principal of the Year award in 2001.
School awards under his leadership include the Hawai‘i State Secondary Blue Ribbon School of the Year, Hawai‘i Governor’s Team of the Year Award, and Department of Education Team Excellence Award. Arakaki received his bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa in 1979.
He did not wish to comment for this story.
Stephanie Shinno, reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.