School Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi’s three-year contract extension has been approved by the Hawaii State Department of Education.
The contract extension is subject to a report from Superintendent Matayoshi to the BOE regarding educator's concerns raised in a recent survey, which included concerns about a climate of fear for speaking out.
On Tuesday, she finally faced news cameras responding to principal's concerns.
"The thing that was most disconcerting to me was that there might even be a sense of retaliation or fear out there," said Matayoshi.
The union that represents the school administrators said the results mirror a survey it conducted earlier this year specifically about frustrations with a mandated teacher evaluation that some say is impractical.
The school board heard a call to delay Tuesday's vote and also to be more transparent about how Matayoshi is being evaluated.
"There has been very little public outreach from the public and the survey has come forward to you was initiated by them principals, not by you. To me, it would be dereliction of your duty to make a decision today to renew the contract without reaching out to gather more public input," said Sen. Laura Thielen, who also happens to be a former board member.
Thielen seemed surprised that public testimony has now been limited to two minutes which she said spoke volumes about the board’s interest in receiving public testimony. She urged the board members to look at what the University of Hawaii board of regents are doing to become more transparent in their selection process.
The board also heard from others in the community.
"I would encourage you to take a very, very close look at the survey and ask the superintendent and share her thoughts, not just with you, but with school personnel before you make a decision," said Honolulu attorney Randy Roth.
"Principals are part of the solution, not part of the problem," said retired Principal Daryl Gallera.
Matayoshi said her leadership team is working on changes to the evaluation system – which could include cutting the paperwork, or how often teachers are evaluated.
But even she admits she is running out of time.
"Multi-track schools start early so we need to get the word out to them as soon as possible, so if they do need to make adjustments they see the changes before they start school," said Matayoshi said.
She hopes to announce something next week.
The board issued a statement Tuesday night which said it had confidence in Matayoshi.
Board chairman Don Horner was not available to answer questions about the process or the contract.
Matayoshi could be in line for a huge raise since the lawmakers passed a bill raising the salary cap to $250,000. The governor is still reviewing the bill and has not signed off on it. Matayoshi currently makes $150,000 a year, which is more than the governor’s salary, but less than two of her principals.