Board of Education selects Kishimoto as next schools superintendent

The Board of Education has selected the next leader of Hawaii’s schools.

After a months-long search process and 92 applicants, Christina Kishimoto has been chosen to be the incoming superintendent.

“Because both finalists were so highly qualified, it was a difficult decision for the board,” said BOE chairman Lance Mizumoto, who led the committee that conducted the search. “In the end, however, we felt that Dr. Kishimoto has the right combination of experience, knowledge, and focus to implement the strategic vision for educational change set forth in the Governor’s Blueprint for Education and the BOE and HIDOE’s newly revised joint strategic plan. We invite the state to join us in welcoming Dr. Kishimoto with respect, generosity, and warmth.”

Kishimoto signed a three-year contract and will start on August 1, 2017. She will begin her transition out of her current role as Superintendent of the Gilbert Public Schools district in Arizona.

“My message to parents is that their voice is absolutely important,” Kishimoto said. “I met several of them during the interview process. I was very impressed with the kind of vision they also are articulating about making sure all students have great access to schools, that we pay attention to and we ensure that we are always building and designing a school district around honoring students’ culture and language and history.”

University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Education professor and a member of the advisory group to the search committee Patricia Halagao said, “I was impressed with Dr. Kishimoto’s focus on school design models that celebrate and sustain our diversity of language and culture. As a former public school teacher and someone who now trains teachers, I also appreciate how Dr. Kishimoto elevates teachers as educational experts and aims to create a system conducive for us to thrive and do what we do best—teach.”

During the selection process, the BOE conducted a thorough background check, which included civil, criminal, financial, and educational verifications. “In addition, district officials, former Superintendents, and other individuals in the Gilbert district were contacted. Various negative statements made about Dr. Kishimoto were either inconsequential or simply invalid,” Mizumoto said.

“Now that the superintendent has been selected, we look forward to the opportunity to work with her to change our test and punish culture, improve the special education crisis, recruit and retain teachers as well as strengthen Hawaii’s career and technical education programs,” said HSTA president Corey Rosenlee. “One of the most important things we are looking for is to create a strong relationship between the new superintendent and HSTA so we can work cooperatively to improve public education in Hawaii. Hawaii is a unique school system encompassing rural and urban as well as small and large schools. We hope the new superintendent will choose a strong local deputy to help her with our diverse culture and statewide school system.”

Current superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi’s contract ends on June 30, and the board will name an interim superintendent to serve in July.

Gov. David Ige issued the following statement:

“I welcome Dr. Christina Kishimoto to this important post. While Dr. Kishimoto will lead the effort to remodel our school system, she will need the support of the entire community. Her success will be our success. Together, we can ensure that those closest to our students are empowered to make decisions that provide the basics and add the new skills our children need to prosper in the future.

“I commend the Board of Education for its hard work in making this selection. Board members conducted an unbiased search and considered many well-qualified candidates. The success of our students was at the heart of their decision.

“Mahalo to Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi who led a reform effort that created a solid foundation upon which we will continue to build and improve.”

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