The Hawaii State Board of Education today appointed Kathryn Matayoshi as interim superintendent of the Hawaii State Department of Education, while also establishing a board committee to conduct a national search for superintendent, according to a press release sent out by the Hawaii Board of Education. She has been with the department as a deputy since July 2009.

According to Alex De Silva, spokesperson for the BOE, Ms. Matayoshi’s interim appointment extends for six months, through July 11, 2010, at which time the Board expects to have chosen a permanent superintendent.”

Matayoshi’s background at the DOE includes working on strategic planning and on Hawaii’s application for the federal Race to the Top program to raise student achievement. She is an an attorney, has worked for the non-profit Hawaii Business Roundtable (2007 to 2009) and served as the state director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (1995 to 2002) under then Gov. Benjamin Cayetano.

Her educational background includes a juris doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, and a bachelor’s degree from Carlton College.

At a meeting last week, Hawaii Board of Education member Breene Harimoto called for Chair Garrett Toguchi’s resignation at a general board meeting last week. Harimoto and four other board members, Donna Ikeda, Herbert Watanabe, Eileen Clarke and Kelly Maeshiro (non-voting student member) spoke out against Toguchi’s withholding of information regarding Hamamoto’s resignation on Dec. 28, 2009. They said they found out about her resignation from media reports on New Year’s Eve.

Breene Harimoto voiced his concerns that the board must be kept informed by the Chair at all times, because the board is liable for all actions taken on the board’s behalf. He also feels that the Hawaii State Teachers’ Association (HSTA) supplemental portion of the current collective bargaining agreement regarding furloughs, negotiated by the board’s negotiating committee, should have been discussed with the whole board.

“The normal process in the past has been to allow the negotiating team to decide for the board; however, this was not a normal contract negotiation,” says Harimoto.
Later, Toguchi stated that he would not resign. He explained that the Superintendent had attempted to resign twice before, but he was able to dissuade her. He thought he could convince her to stay once again.

The board has been split between Toguchi’s 8 members and Harimoto’s 5 members. Toguchi’s faction is pushing for reform of the Department of Education’s business practices — streamlining it to make the department more efficient. They endorse the interim Superintendent Kathy Matayoshi, a businesswoman who has a track record of reforming the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

‘Laura Brown is the capitol reporter and researcher for Hawaii Reporter. Reach her at mailto:Malia@hawaiireporter.com’

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