SUBMITTED BY THE STATE PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL COMMISSION – HONOLULU– The State Public Charter School Commission will release enough funds to pay teachers and staff at Hālau Lōkahi Charter School through the end of this month, in order to allow families and staff two more weeks to make transitions to new schools and new employers. At that point—and hopefully sooner—all students should have transferred to other schools.
Last week, the Commission voted to commence the process of revoking the school’s charter contract, the latest action resulting from the school’s longstanding financial troubles and one taken amid concerns over the school’s final, last-minute proposal to try to make a deal with a for-profit provider of online instructional, administrative, and technological services. The Commission authorized the release only of such funds as are needed for transition to closure.
The school still is entitled to avail itself of a process for receiving a hearing by the Commission on the final closure decision, and after that it would be able to appeal the Commission’s decision to Board of Education. “This lengthy process never was designed for a situation in which a school has insufficient funds to sustain its operations in the meantime,” explained Commission Executive Director Tom Hutton. “Procedurally we’re in uncharted waters, and when there’s no chart, our guiding star has be what’s best for students: in this case, moving on.”
The school will continue to exist as a legal entity for purposes of the process, but even if the Commission were to release all of the funds the school normally would have received for the remainder of the school year—instead of trying to pay down some of the school’s past debts—the school would run out of money. The additional time for student and staff transitions will come at some additional cost to taxpayers, because the school’s debts exceed the funds left for the year.
“The Commission is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support and welcome that Hawaii’s public schools, DOE as well as charter, is providing these students and their families,” said Commission Chairperson Catherine Payne. “We are committed to providing all the assistance we can to make sure everyone gets a good, fresh start for the new semester.”