Interim Hawaii Schools Chief Plans To ‘Stay the Course’

By Linda Jacobson — October 31, 2001 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Hawaii’s interim superintendent, Patricia Hamamoto, promises to “stay the course” and build on the systemwide changes Paul G. LeMahieu initiated, in spite of his abrupt departure from the state chief’s post earlier this month.

“We have a solid foundation in place, and a valid blueprint for school improvement,” the former deputy superintendent and high school principal said in a statement after she accepted the position Oct. 19. “While our top leadership has changed, our focus on the students has remained the same.”

One day earlier, the Hawaii board of education accepted the resignation of Mr. LeMahieu, whose relationship with a woman under contract with the department was being investigated by a state legislative panel.

The woman, Kaniu Kinimaka-Stocksdale, is the head of Na Laukoa, a consulting company in Hilo, Hawaii, that received a subcontract to help the statewide district comply with what is known as the Felix consent decree, a federal court mandate to improve special education services.

Na Laukoa’s $600,000 subcontract was part of a $2.3 million contract awarded over a year ago to Honolulu-based Pacific Resources for Education and Learning, or PREL, one of 10 regional school improvement laboratories financed by the U.S. Department of Education.

The joint legislative committee has been reviewing the costs associated with meeting the court’s requirements.

After resigning, Mr. LeMahieu told local reporters that his relationship with Ms. Kinimaka-Stocksdale, a former entertainer, had “crossed the line.” But he also said that the subcontract had been awarded before a brief affair took place. Neither Mr. LeMahieu nor Ms. Kinimaka-Stocksdale could be reached for comment last week.

The legislative committee, as well as members of the state board of education, had been concerned that there were possible conflicts of interest involved in the contract with PREL, even though a federal judge had granted Mr. LeMahieu the authority to make the improvements necessary to bring several schools into compliance with the consent decree.

Last spring, the board asked the superintendent to step down from his position as a PREL board member, although state schools chiefs routinely serve on the boards of the federal Education Department’s regional labs. (“Hawaii Chief Resigns From Board of Federally Funded Lab,” May 23, 2001.)

‘Moving Forward’

News of Mr. LeMahieu’s relationship with the consultant apparently came as little surprise. “The rumors were rampant,” said Greg Knudsen, a spokesman for the state education department.

He added, however, that beyond the issue of the relationship, questions were being raised about whether Mr. LeMahieu was still an effective leader.

“We are moving forward and are trying to continue in the general direction,” Mr. Knudsen said, describing the superintendent’s resignation as a “hurdle that has been taken out the way.”

Mr. LeMahieu, regarded as an authority on educational accountability, is credited with making standards-based improvements to the 183,000-student system. It is for that reason and others that some are disappointed to see him leave.

“We didn’t agree on everything, but we believed that he was helping schools move in the right direction,” said Danielle Lum, the spokeswoman for the Hawaii State Teachers Association, an affiliate of the National Education Association. “Now we don’t know where we stand.”

Mr. LeMahieu was hired in 1998, and was the first schools chief in the state to be hired from outside Hawaii. The state board is now expected to launch another nationwide search.

Related Tags:


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
Teaching Live Online Discussion Seat at the Table: How Can We Help Students Feel Connected to School?
Get strategies for your struggles with student engagement. Bring questions for our expert panel. Help students recover the joy of learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States Opinion Searching for Common Ground: The Parental-Rights Bill, aka the 'Don’t Say Gay’ Bill
Rick and USC dean Pedro Noguera discuss Florida's law curbing gender and sexuality talk and its impact on students, teachers, and parents.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
States Texas Governor Sparks Backlash With Talk of Rolling Back Free School for Immigrant Kids
Critics assailed Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's idea as “hare-brained” and “cruel.”
Robert T. Garrett, The Dallas Morning News
5 min read
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Eric Gay/AP
States How Laws on Race, Sexuality Could Clash With Culturally Responsive Teaching
Critical race theory and culturally responsive teaching are not the same thing. But bans of one could impact the other.
7 min read
Illustration of diverse hands being raised.
States Beyond 'Don't Say Gay': Other States Seek to Limit LGBTQ Youth, Teaching
Legislators want to ban lessons on LGBTQ communities and require teachers to tell parents when students want their pronouns changed.
9 min read
Kara Klever holds a sign in protest in the hall outside of the Blue Room as Governor Kevin Stitt signs a bill into law that prevents transgender girls and women from competing on female sports teams at the Capitol Wednesday, March 30, 2022 in Oklahoma City, Oka. The bill, which easily passed the Republican-led House and Senate mostly along party lines, took effect immediately with the governor's signature. It applies to female sports teams in both high school and college.
Kara Klever holds a sign in protest as Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs a bill into law that prevents transgender girls and women from competing on female sports teams.
Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman via AP