Ka'u Learning Academy

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Charter School Commission Revokes Kaʻu Learning Academy Contract

7/9/2018

Honolulu- The Hawaiʻi State Public Charter School Commission today voted to revoke the charter contract for Kaʻu Learning Academy (KLA) due to multiple contract violations.  A total of 22 violations, including financial and operational irregularities, enrollment discrepancies, failure to properly maintain student and employee records, and the determination that the charter school’s purported governing board was improperly constituted and did not meet statutory legal requirements.

 

Additionally, on June 21, the Commission was informed by the Hawaiʻi Department of Education that after completing an investigation of possible test breaches at KLA, the 2017 assessment scores of all students tested at the school cannot be considered valid or trustworthy and will be invalidated. 

 

The decision to revoke the charter contract was rendered during a special hearing that had been requested by the charter school’s purported governing board after the Commission initiated the revocation process in April.

 

Ka’u Learning Academy opened its doors in 2015 serving students in grades 3-7.    The projected student count for the 2018-19 school year was 93. The revocation of the charter contract means the school closes its doors immediately. Closure notifications will be sent to parents, staff and state agencies. The Commission will secure both student and financial records and conduct an inventory of school property. Within 15 days of the closure decision, the Commission will notify the charter contract holder in writing of the closure decision and transmit a copy of the notification to the Board of Education. Within 21 days of the closure decision, the contract holder may file an appeal of the decision to the BOE. The BOE will issue a final decision within 60 calendar days of the filing of the appeal.

 

The Commission will work closely with the school’s students and their families to assist in the transition for students to their new schools.   The Commission will also work closely with the Hawaiʻi Department of Education for any students and their families who wish to transition to a Department Public School.

Hearing Date Set for the Revocation of Charter Contract for Kaʻu Learning Academy

6/22/2018

Pursuant to Kaʻu Learning Academy’s (“KLA”) request,  dated May 10, 2018 and received on May 16, 2018, seeking a hearing on the Prospect of Revocation Notice issued on April 17, 2018 by the State Public Charter School Commission (“Commission”), a hearing on this matter is hereby

scheduled for:

 

Date: Monday, July 9, 2018

Time: 11:00 a.m.

Location: Queen Liliuokalani Building

1390 Miller Street, Room 404

Honolulu, HI 96813

Should you have any questions concerning this proceeding, you may contact the Commission office at 808-586-3775.

Notice of Prospect of Revocation (Letter to Purported Governing Board Members)

4/17/2018

This Notice of Prospect of Revocation is issued to Kaʻu Learning Academy (KLA) pursuant to §8-‐505-‐16, Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR), and in accordance with the action taken at the State Public Charter School Commission’s General Business Meeting on April 12, 2018. 

Click here to read the full notice.

State Public Charter School Commission Will Hold a Community Meeting

1/24/18

The Hawaiʻi State Public Charter School Commission (SPCSC) invites​ Kaʻu Learning Academy (KLA) families and community members to a community meeting on Monday, January 29, 2018  at the Discovery Harbour Community Association Assembly Hall at 94-1604 Makaliʻi Street in Naʻalehu. The meeting will take place from from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. SPCSC will be there to ​talk with the community about the Commission, its oversight duties of all public charter schools, including KLA, and to explain the Commission's recent action in issuing the Notice of Prospect of Revocation, the first step of a multi-step process.  The Commission will provide information and also receive feedback from the KLA and Kaʻu community.  

Slide Presentation

Ka'u Learning Academy Requests Hearing

1/16/18

Kaʻu Learning Academy responded today to the Amended Notice of Prospect of Revocation and requested a hearing on this matter, in accordance with HAR §8-‐505-‐20. The Commission will provide more information once a hearing date is scheduled. 

Amended Notice of Prospect of Revocation

12/15/17

Re: Amended Notice of Prospect of Revocation 

Dear Ms. Sledeziewski and the Governing Board of Kaʻu Learning Academy: 

This Amended Notice of Prospect of Revocation is issued to Kaʻu Learning Academy (KLA) pursuant to §8-‐505-‐16, Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR), and in accordance with the action taken at the State Public Charter School Commission’s General Business Meeting on November 28, 2017. On December 14, 2017 during its General Business Meeting, the Commission approved the minutes to the meeting and corrected the approved motion taken to issue the Notice of Prospect of Revocation, specifically the Commission added §302D-‐18(g)(4), Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) to the motion: 

ACTION: Motion that the Commission issue a notice of prospect of revocation to Kaʻu Learning Academy, pursuant to Section 302D-18(g)(1), (2), (3), and (4) Hawaii Revised Statutes (Takabayashi/Kim). The motion passed unanimously. 

ACTION: Motion that the Commission withhold further funding to Kaʻu Learning Academy, provided that staff be authorized to release such funds as it deems essential for orderly operation of the school (Takabayashi/D’Olier). The motion passed unanimously. 

The State Public Charter School Commission’s (Commission’s) determination to issue this Notice of Prospect of Revocation was a result of a review of an independent auditor’s audit report that cited KLA for several material weaknesses and incidents of non-compliance, specifically: 

• Finding 2017-001: Lack of Internal Controls and Additional Oversight - continuation of 2016-001 

• Finding 2017-002: Accounting does not follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) 

• Finding 2017-003: Non-compliance with Department of Labor Laws and Regulations 

 

The Commission’s decision to take action on and initiate the revocation process of KLA’s State Public Charter School Contract was done in accordance with §302D-‐18(g), Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), which allows the Commission to revoke a charter contract if the Commission determines that a charter school did any of the following: 

(1) Committed a material and substantial violations of the terms, conditions, standards, and/or procedures required under its Charter Contract; 

(2) Failed to meet or make sufficient progress toward performance expectations set forth in the contract; and 

(3) Failed to make generally accepted standards of fiscal management; and 

(4) Substantially violated any material provision of law from which the charter school is not exempted. 

It was the Commission’s determination that the results of KLA’s audit report raise concerns pertaining to all four provisions stated above. During the discussion and deliberation, the Commission raised concerns regarding the lack of understanding of governance support, structure, and involvement of the school’s governing board. 

Under HAR §8-‐505-‐16, KLA has until January 16, 2018, to respond to this Notice of Prospect of Revocation. The school also has the option of requesting a hearing on this matter, in accordance with HAR §8-‐505-‐20, and may request legal representation, subject to Section 28-‐8.3, HRS. For more details, we refer you to HAR §8-‐505, Subchapters 4 and 5. 

 

The Commission will be notifying KLA’s parents and staff of the Commission’s decision and the process that will occur. The Commission will also be posting information on our website in order to provide the most updated information to the public. If you have procedural questions, please contact Chief Operations Officer Yvonne Lau (Yvonne.Lau@spcsc.hawaii.gov) or (808) 586-3775. 

Throughout this process, the Commission will remain committed to work with KLA, its students and families, and community in a respectful and cordial manner that puts the interests of the school’s students at the forefront. 

Sincerely yours, 

Catherine Payne Sione Thompson 

Chairperson Executive Director 

c: Kathryn Tydlacka, Principal, Kaʻu Learning Academy (VIA EMAIL)

Notice of Prospect of Revocation (Letter to Governing Board)

11/29/17

Notice of Prospect of Revocation 

Dear Ms. Sledeziewski and the Governing Board of Kaʻu Learning Academy: 

This Notice of Prospect of Revocation is issued to Kaʻu Learning Academy (KLA) pursuant to §8-‐505-‐16, Hawaii Administrative Rules (HAR), and in accordance with the action taken at the State Public Charter School Commission’s General Business Meeting on November 28, 2017. 

The State Public Charter School Commission’s (Commission’s) determination to issue this Notice of Prospect of Revocation was a result of a review of an independent auditor’s audit report that cited KLA for several material weaknesses and incidents of non-compliance, specifically: 

• Finding 2017-001: Lack of Internal Controls and Additional Oversight - continuation of 2016-001 

• Finding 2017-002: Accounting does not follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) 

• Finding 2017-003: Non-compliance with Department of Labor Laws and Regulations 

The Commission’s decision to take action on and initiate the revocation process of KLA’s State Public Charter School Contract was done in accordance with §302D-‐18(g), Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), which allows the Commission to revoke a charter contract if the Commission determines that a charter school did any of the following: 

(1) Committed a material and substantial violations of the terms, conditions, standards, and/or procedures required under its Charter Contract; 

(2) Failed to meet or make sufficient progress toward performance expectations set forth in the contract; and 

(3) Failed to make generally accepted standards of fiscal management. 

It was the Commission’s determination that the results of KLA’s audit report raise concerns pertaining to all three provisions stated above. During the discussion and deliberation, the Commission raised concerns regarding the lack of understanding of governance support, structure, and involvement of the school’s governing board. 

Under HAR §8-‐505-‐16, KLA has until December 29, 2017, to respond to this Notice of Prospect of Revocation. The school also has the option of requesting a hearing on this matter, in accordance with HAR §8-‐505-‐20, and may request legal representation, subject to Section 28-‐8.3, HRS. For more details, we refer you to HAR §8-‐505, Subchapters 4 and 5. 

The Commission will be notifying KLA’s parents and staff of the Commission’s decision and the process that will occur. The Commission will also be posting information on our website in order to provide the most updated information to the public. If you have procedural questions, please contact Chief Operations Officer Yvonne Lau (Yvonne.Lau@spcsc.hawaii.gov) or (808) 586-3775. 

Throughout this process, the Commission will remain committed to work with KLA, its students and families, and community in a respectful and cordial manner that puts the interests of the school’s students at the forefront. 

Sincerely yours, 

Catherine Payne Sione Thompson 

Chairperson Executive Director 

c: Kathryn Tydlacka, Principal, Kaʻu Learning Academy (VIA EMAIL) 

​​Information for Kaʻu Learning Academy ʻOhana

Posted on December 1, 2017

Dear Kaʻu Learning Academy ‘Ohana: 

We are writing to share with you about a recent decision regarding Kaʻu Learning Academy Public Charter School (KLA) made by the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission (Commission), the state agency that oversees all charter schools in Hawaiʻi.


At its meeting on November 28, 2017, the Commission voted to send KLA a “Notice of Prospect of Revocation,” the first step in the Commission’s review and decision-making process about the future of the school. The Commission also voted to limit the release of KLA’s December 1 allotment of state funding to only those funds necessary for the operation of the school.

The Commission’s decision to issue this notice came after hearing from KLA’s director, managing director, and others familiar with the school. This decision was based on a review of KLA’s 2016-2017 financial information and an independent auditor’s report, which identified a number of serious issues, as well as concerns from the Commission regarding the involvement of the school’s governing board.  

The Commission is committed to keeping KLA’s students, families, and staff informed, and will continue to share information about this process. 

Notice of Prospect of Revocation

Posted 12/1/2017

The Commission Issues a Notice of Prospect of Revocation 

 

HONOLULU, HI-  At its General Business Meeting on Tuesday, November 28, 2017, the State Public Charter School Commission voted unanimously to issue a Notice of Prospect of Revocation for Kaʻu Learning Academy (KLA). The Commission’s determination to issue the Notice of Prospect of Revocation was a result of a review of an independent auditor’s audit report which cited KLA for several material weaknesses and incidents of non-compliance and after hearing from the school’s director, managing director, and other testimony during the meeting.

Section 302D-32, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), requires that “each charter school shall annually complete an independent financial audit that complies with the requirements of its authorizer.” In addition, the Charter Contract for KLA, in Section 11.3.4, states “Each fiscal year, the School shall provide for an independent annual financial audit conducted in accordance with Generally Accepted Auditing Standards and Governmental Auditing Standards and performed by a certified public accountant (CPA) ...”  On November 15, 2017, Commission staff received KLA’s Independent Financial Audit for Fiscal Year 2016-2017.

The audit found a lack of internal controls and additional oversight which included reimbursements for personal travel costs, payment for a personal utility bill, and a lack of documentation for a dozen charges made on the school debit account.  The lack of internal controls was also a finding in the previous year’s audit for the school.

The audit also found that the school did not follow generally accepted accounting principles which resulted in significant adjustments to the school’s financial reports at the end of the fiscal year and that financial reports completed during the school year were not an accurate representation of the school’s financial status.

 

Additionally, the audit found that the school is not in compliance with Department of Labor laws and regulations.  Employee compensation, specifically bonuses were not run through payroll and educational assistants were paid as independent contractors.

KLA is located in Ka’u on Hawai’i Island and currently serves 94 students in grades 3-7. The Commission is committed to working with Kaʻu Learning Academy,  its students, families, and community in a neighborly and respectful way.

For more information on the November 28 agenda click here.

For additional information on the submittal for Ka'u Leaning Academy, click here.

To view the full audit and submittal, click here.

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​State Public Charter School Commission

 

1111 Bishop Street, Suite 516

Honolulu, HI 96813
info@spcsc.hawaii.gov

Tel: 808-586-3775

Fax: 808-586-3776

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* The Commission gratefully acknowledges  former Commissioner, Dr. Peter Hanohano, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs for the translation of the Commission’s name.

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