KAIMUKI—On January 31, State Department of Education (DOE) Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi submitted to the Board of Education (BOE) her recommendation to close 99 year-old Queen Liliuokalani School (QLS), effective June 30, 2011. She stated two primary reasons for her recommendation: 1) to save money (at least $530,000 according to DOE findings in their consolidation study) and 2) subsidies for small schools are being reduced over time, meaning that “it will be increasingly difficult for students to receive the same level of educational opportunities that are available at neighboring schools.”
Friends of QLS (parents, staff, and community members) are opposed to the closure and have sent a letter to Speaker Calvin Say and Rep. Barbara Marumoto asking for their help in approaching the State Attorney General and requesting his opinion as to the legitimacy of the consolidation study and its findings.
According to Jan Bullock and fellow Friends of QLS, the DOE has also repeatedly disregarded the Hawaii Administrative Rules governing how the DOE must act when closing a school. Specifically, it has failed to meet its own stated deadlines and violated the integrity of the closure process. The Friends of QLS’s hope is that the Attorney General will find the numerous violations just cause for suspending the DOE’s recommendation to close QLS. They question the DOE’s credibility, let alone what message it is sending to its students about fairness and following procedures, when it fails to meet its own standards.
Meanwhile, the Board’s Committee on Administrative Services plans to address the Superintendent’s recommendation at a meeting scheduled for Monday, February 14 at 3:00 p.m. in the Queen Liliuokalani Building, located at 1390 Miller Street, Room 404. Public testimonies and petitions will be heard.
The next step will be for the entire Board of Education to vote, before which the public should have one more chance to speak. The date of the vote is not yet set but will most likely not occur until March or April. The members of the Board have the final say and there is no appeals process in place.
Complicating this story line are House Resolution 34 and House Concurrent Resolution 39 being proposed by Kaimuki area representatives Barbara Marumoto and Calvin Say. These proposals urge the BOE to defer decision making on the closure of QLS until the new members of the BOE are appointed by the Governor and seated.
To provide testimony to the Board, e-mail [email protected], include your first and last name and city, and address the email to the Committee on Administrative Services.