Thursday, November 02, 2006


BOE seems to be defying OIP decision to release minutes of Jim Shon firing

It's Thursday, November 2. According to the OIP decision, the Board of Education was to release redacted minutes to me and another requester by close of business yesterday.

So far, I've heard nothing. I sent a friendly fax to the BOE earlier this morning. Still nothing. In fact, I have received nothing at all from the BOE after I filed my request, even though the law requires that they respond within 10 days to any request for public records.

This Board doesn't seem to mind breaking laws. I'm not an attorney, but it seems to me that if they added an action (i.e., the firing of Jim Shon) to the agenda without public notice, the action itself would appear to be illegal and could be subject to challenge.

Will there be a challenge? Most likely not. Jim has moved on, and there has been a new appointment to his position. If the BOE is allowed to defy the law whenever they want to, you can be sure they'll do it again. An OIP decision has no teeth at present--there have been calls for new legislation to give them enforcement authority--and you can bet that this BOE knows that there will be no consequences to their action. The OIP cannot even slap their wrists with a ruler. So what will prevent them from breaking the law again?

In case voters may want to know which BOE members took part in what may be a number of illegal actions (failure to follow the Sunshine Law, taking an action without public notice, failure to respond to a request for information, failure to comply with OIP decision, etc.) before Tuesday's election, here is a link to the September 7 minutes as published on the BOE website:

This is the portion describing the secret Executive Session and those who voted to hold it (they therefore knew what subjects fell within the scope of their discussion):
A. Evaluation of the Executive Director of the Charter School Administrative Office
B. Watson Wyatt Contract
C. Personnel Matters Relating to Kalani High School
D. Personnel Matters Relating to the Civil Rights Compliance Office
E. Legal Issues Relating to Employee Benefits
F. Consultation with the Attorney General on Collective Bargaining Issues

Ms. Knudsen moved, and Mr. Watanabe seconded, that the Board go immediately into executive session to discuss the evaluation of the executive director of the Charter School Administrative Office; to discuss the Watson Wyatt contract; to discuss personnel matters relating to Kalani High School and the Civil Rights Compliance Office; to discuss legal issues relating to employee benefits; and to consult with the Attorney General on collective bargaining issues.

The motion carried unanimously with Dr. Ahu Isa, Mr. Ching, Ms. Cochran, Ms. Cox, Mr. Harimoto, Mr. Heftel, Ms. Knudsen, Ms. Matsumoto, Ms. Robinson, Mr. Toguchi, Mr. Vierling, Mr. Watanabe, and Mr. Yee voting aye. There were no nays or abstentions.
In case you are making lists of BOE candidates and incumbents to take with you to the voting booth, here are the names of those present at the September 7 meeting:
Randall Yee, Chairperson
Karen Knudsen, First Vice Chairperson
Herbert Watanabe, Second Vice Chairperson
Lei Ahu Isa
Darwin Ching
Mary Cochran
Margaret Cox
Breene Harimoto
Cecil Heftel
Darren Ibara
Denise Matsumoto
Shirley Robinson
Garrett Toguchi
Paul Vierling
Until the BOE releases the redacted minutes, we don't know who voted to remove Jim Shon. However, all of the Board members present aparently participated in the secret meeting at which he was removed, which may have been illegal.


While I'm not surprised by the BOE's hesitation, my hope is that you receive something in the mail today. I'll circulate an e-mail amongst my fellow candidates containing a link to your blog. It probably won't help much, but it will show that other people are watching. Also, Alex Silva from the Star-Bulletin is following your story. Kudos to both he and you for being persistent in the public's right to remain informed.

Thanks for your comments and for following this issue.

Several reporters have called about it. Perhaps it will break out into the mainstream press.

I think that by withholding the minutes the BOE is indicating (among other things) that they are afraid of reaction from the many parents who support the charter school movement. After all, Jim Shon's firing was very unpopular.

So I do hope that I get something in the mail today, but if others would weigh in on this, the chances might be better (I'm not holding my breath, by the way!).

OIP has issued a decision and still they won't release the info. That should not be allowed to stand.

So thanks for spreading the word.

Well, Jesse, of course that's just ludicrous.

You don't need an attorneys advice to follow a Court Order. It kinda trumps whatever advice the AG can offer. What you do is salute smartly and and then do what is required. This avoids the next logical action which is an order of contempt. The real question is why hasn't that motion for contempt been filed yet? Any citizen can do it, BTW.

Actually, on Thursday the Attorney General, who is the BOE's attorney, reached an agreement with OIP that the votes should be disclosed immediately. I'll be posting an article shortly (I was out almost all of yesterday in no-Wi-Fi land).

But the BOE still hasn't complied.

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