Charter school commission takes first step to close Halau Lokahi

Halau Lokahi Charter School

A troubled charter school in Kalihi is losing its funding and could soon be no more.

The State Public Charter School Commission made the decision about Halau Lokahi late Thursday afternoon.

With a 7-2 vote, the commission began the revocation process to essentially rescind the school’s charter contract.

Members also voted to withhold funds from Halau Lokahi, some $250,000 total, unless it’s to help with the school’s closure.

Last November, the Attorney General’s office raided Halau Lokahi because of questionable spending of up to $100,000, after the school racked up a debt of more than $400,000 in 2013.

Earlier in 2014, teachers at the school complained about not getting paid.

The school began restructuring, getting rid of non-essential staff. At Thursday’s meeting, school officials presented the commission with their restructuring plan: to partner up with a company called K12, which would provide them with online curriculum and five part-time certified instructors.

Some commission members expressed concern over this program and transitioning into it now, with just four days left until students return from winter break.

“As a Hawaiian-focused charter school, my main concern was the foundational changes that would affect the children educationally,” said commission member Kalehua Krug.

“Today, our state education system passed a serious test of credibility. Now the system has to pass a serious test of aloha, which is how do we reach out to these families and make sure that we welcome them,” said Tom Hutton, commission executive director.

The school has 30 days to challenge this vote and the commission also needs to return to make a final decision to officially close the school.

After the vote was announced, several school officials abruptly left and declined an interview.

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