Retired school principal Darrel Galera
DOE Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi

HONOLULU — Hawaii State Department of Education Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi will get a raise of $50,000. Her salary, paid by state taxpayers, will rise from $150,000 to $200,000 anually beginning July 1.

Matayoshi’s compensation boost comes two weeks after the state Board of Education voted to renew her contract for another four years over the objection of the majority of public school principals.

Eighty-eight percent of Hawaii’s public school principals reported in a recent survey they are “extremely dissatisfied” with Matayoshi’s leadership and lobbied against her reappointment. Another 65 percent of school principals said they fear retaliation if they speak out against her administration.

Principals acknowledged several leadership issues within the DOE since the controversial school superintendent took over in 2010, including problems implementing a new teacher evaluation system and the Common Core curriculum, both of which are hurting teachers and students, they say. The DOE administration has a negative attitude, has hurt morale, is ineffective and doesn’t provide support or training for DOE personnel, the educators said.

Retired school principal Darrel Galera, who spent three decades in Hawaii’s public school system, testified in a hearing Tuesday on behalf of school principals. Galera reminded the board the superintendent still hasn’t addressed principals’ concerns outlined in the principal survey.

He said: “We (school principals) feel it’s shocking that the leader of the education system and her leadership deny and disregard such serious problems expressed by principals. You would need to have leadership that embraces the idea that you have to change the system. You have to empower schools. You have to empower principals parents and students so that change will happen.”

Board of Education Chair Don Horner supports Matayoshi, saying the department has made significant changes and continues to make positive progress under Matayoshi’s leadership. Despite major challenges during her tenure, Matayoshi has worked collaboratively, has made thoughtful decisions and has been accountable.

“During her term, the DOE has faced significant challenges, including budget reductions, union issues, federal mandates and implementation of a new comprehensive strategic plan. She has reorganized the entire department to be in alignment with our strategic objectives, which are focused on student success,” Horner said. “Change is not easy and requires listening, collaboration and adjustments, as well as accountability. The Board will continue to monitor the plan’s progress, and together we shall support the positive change within our schools.”

Matayoshi’s salary had been capped at $150,000 under Hawaii law, but legislators increased that cap to $250,000 this past legislative session at the request of the Department of Education and Board of Education.

Galera told the Board during his testimony, “I believe by approving the superintendent’s contract with such limited public notice and input, your actions set a poor example of what it takes to be a college, career, and citizen ready member of our democratic society. Instead of sending a message to students to get involved in government and public affairs because your voice will be valued, we send a message that government is secretive, done behind closed doors, and that no public input is wanted nor valued. Your message to Hawaii students is, “Don’t get involved … don’t ask questions … don’t think critically … don’t participate as a citizen … it won’t matter.”

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