Big Island principal abruptly leaves; community organizes to bring him back

Ikaika M Hussey

John Colson, the principal of Waimea Middle School on Hawaii Island, abruptly left that position yesterday.

Students and parents were notified today in a school assembly, and an open letter was posted on the school’s website. School leadership for the remainder of the school year has not yet been announced.

Edlyn Carvalho, parent of a current 7th grader at the school, said “The staff and teachers at the school are in utter shock and our students both current and past are dumbfounded.”

Colson served as head of Waimea Middle School for the past four years. Most recently, Colson worked as middle school principal at Kamehameha School’s Kea‘au campus. Before that, he worked for 23 years at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, serving the last ten years as the school’s headmaster.

Faculty and staff are actively organizing their community for more information. A Facebook page, “Colson 4 WMS,” has been created. As of this writing, there is a single discussion thread, but there are 40 comments with effusive praise for Colson, such as this, from William N. Bergin:

“Mr Colson is the reason why my son is attending WMS. I was looking forward to my younger son having the opportunity to experience Mr. Colson’s positive influence!”

An open letter is also being circulated through the school community.

Waimea Middle School is a conversion charter school, under the management of Ho‘okako‘o, a nonprofit corporation which oversees three conversion charter schools. Ho‘okako‘o receives funding from the State of Hawaii, Kamehameha Schools, the federal government, and private corporations.

Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School has 284 students in sixth through eighth grades, and has about 80 teachers, counselors and staff. It is in its ninth year as the state’s first public conversion charter school.

This post will be updated when more information is available, including responses to requests for comment from Ho‘okako‘o.