Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Kahuku Mother Sues Board of Education over Secret, Closed-Door Meeting and Vote

This is a news release from attorney Lance Collins regarding action to remedy what appears to be a blatant refusal on the part of Hawaii's statewide Board of Education to follow the Sunshine Law.

Pending outcome of the court challenge, my comment would be that they very well understand the law. It's not as though this is an inexperienced board.

Kahuku, Oahu -- Sunny Unga, Kahuku resident and mother of public school
children, has filed suit against the Board of Education for holding a
secret, closed door meeting last February, that resulted in denying her
petition for rulemaking, violating the state Sunshine Law.

In January, Ms. Unga petitioned the Board of Education to adopt a new
rule that requires schools and libraries to hold a community meeting
before providing official comments regarding development projects
proposed within five miles of a school or library.

The petition came after it was discovered the Department of Education
raised no concerns about the close proximity of proposed windmills to
Kahuku Elementary -- other than "student will hear the windmills" -- in
its official comment for the Na Pua Makani windwill EIS.

Within weeks of receiving the official petition, the Board of Education
held a secret meeting behind closed doors where they deliberated and
voted to deny the petition. The Board did not provide notice of the
meeting to the public nor did it allow the public the opportunity to
testify before they made their decision.

After the Board held its secret meeting, they informed Ms. Unga that
they had denied her petition.

The Board admits they did not provide notice of the meeting and failed
to provide the public with notice of their decision. The Board instead
argues that it was allowed to pass an administrative rule which exempted
itself from the requirements of the Sunshine Law.

Ms. Unga is asking the First Circuit Court to void the Board's action
denying her petition, to require the Board to consider her petition at a
public meeting, and to invalidate the Board's rule attempting to exempt
itself from the Sunshine Law.

"The community asked the Board to consider transparency in Department of
Education decision-making regarding proposed developments around schools
and libraries. Sadly, the Board chose to reject it in a secret,
closed-door meeting," said Ms. Unga's attorney Bianca Isaki.

"The Sunshine Law is to ensure that the formation of public policy is
done in the open. No agency has the power to adopt a rule that exempts
itself from this mandate," said Ms. Unga's attorney Lance D. Collins.


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