The Hawaiʻi State Public Charter School Commission held a Special Proceeding yesterday pursuant to Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes §302D-18 regarding the renewal of the Charter School Contract for Kamalani Academy in Wahiawā. To date, thirty-five of the 37 charter schools in Hawaiʻi have already been granted new five-year charter contracts by the Commission.
The Commission reviewed Kamalani Academy’s application for renewal, and heard from the school’s leader, governing board chair and fiscal officer. The Commission has been engaged with Kamalani Academy for well over a year to seek clarification and a better understanding of their schoolʻs actions that lead to the special proceeding. After deliberating, the Commission voted 5 to 1 for non-renewal of the charter contract due to multiple material and substantive violations of the charter contract.
Every public charter school in Hawaiʻi is overseen by their governing board which has a charter contract with the State Public Charter School Commission. That contract defines the Academic, Organizational, and Financial expectations for each school. The charter school’s contract is renewed based on performance on their charter contract. Pursuant to §302D-5(a), Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”), the Commission, as an authorizer, is responsible for executing the essential power and duty of determining whether each charter contract merits renewal, nonrenewal, or revocation.
When determining whether a charter school will have their contract renewed or non renewed, the Commission reviews all evidence related to the charter school’s performance.
On October 28, 2021, the Commission took action to issue a Notice of Concern (NOC) to Kamalani Academy’s Governing Board regarding Admission, Enrollment, and Unauthorized Virtual Learning Program. The Commission requested pertinent information including student admissions and enrollment information and whether the program meets the Commission’s guidelines for blended and virtual programs. If a charter school that does not have an authorized online virtual or blended program, but wants to start such a program, it must apply for a contract amendment with the Commission prior to beginning such a program. On November 15, 2021, the
Commission determined that Kamalani did not have the authority to open a new virtual, blended or alternate program without going through a contract amendment process, as a result, the Commission determined that Kamalani’s enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year was actually 152 students and not the 335 that was entered into the student information system as of October 15, 2022 (the Charter School enrollment count date)
Subsequently, at its May 26, 2022 general business meeting, in response to the School’s request to add a virtual program, the Commission received two dozen complaints from parents regarding Kamalani Academy’s refusal to release their children to attend other schools. As a result, the Commission tasked staff to investigate these complaints. On June 14, 2022, Commission staff conducted a site visit to Kamalani Academy and as a result of that visit, on June 20, 2022 another NOC was issued to Kamalani Academy regarding inaccuracies with the school’s projected student enrollment, the state of the student records, governance of the school, and release and withdrawal of students.
The NOC was escalated to a Notice of Deficiency (NOD) at the Commission’s General Business meeting on October 13, 2022, due to the school’s continued failure to completely address the issues identified in the NOC of June 20, 2022. A Notice of Deficiency is considered in contract renewal as stated in the charter contract. Detailed information about the NOC and NOD can be found in the Commission’s website in the submittal for the Special Proceeding on the meeting page.
Once their current contract expires on June 30, 2023, the school will close. Kamalani Academy may choose to appeal the Commission’s decision to the Hawaiʻi Board of Education.
Kamalani Academy serves about 150 students in grades kindergarten through 8.