State House minority leader points to federal funds as a solution to charter school nepotism charges

Hawaii Independent Staff

HONOLULU—Following reports of nepotism at Myron B. Thompson Academy Public Charter School, Rep. Gene Ward (R-Hawaii Kai) announced that the $2.3 million in Federal Stimulus Funds recently released by the Lingle Administration for Charter School accreditation could help prevent these problems in the future.

The reports of nepotism point to the school’s principal, Diana Oshiro, who hired several relatives on staff.

Thompson Academy is a K-12 school that provides competency-based courses and standards-driven instruction that is supported by interactive sessions with teachers and other students, videos, and other multi-media technologies. Students are located on Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii island.

“The charter school accreditation process involves using national standards and best practices to improve the management, policies, and procedures, including anti-nepotism practices in our charter schools,” said Ward, the State House Republican Leader. “National experts will work with our school officials to ensure that hiring practices avoid nepotism that teachers are properly certified, and that public education funds are accounted for and well spent.”

Currently seven Hawaii public charter schools have already received national accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. These schools include Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences (Hilo, Hawaii), Hawaii Technology Academy (Waipahu, Hawaii), Kihei Public Charter High School (Kihei, Maui), Kona Pacific Academy (Kona, Hawaii), Lanikai Elementary (Lanikai, Oahu), Waialae Elementary (Honolulu, Oahu), and West Hawaii Explorations Academy (Kona, Hawaii).

Accreditation is the “gold standard” for public school operations and is particularly important for high school graduates since some colleges only recognize grade transcripts from accredited high schools.

“Charter schools sans nepotism should remain autonomous and be given latitude in how they operate and deliver public education to Hawaii students who opt to attend a charter, rather than a traditional public school,” Ward said.