Close ties color boards’ decisions

Susan Essoyan:

Some of Hawaii’s charter school boards are so closely entwined with their school’s leadership that the relationships could limit their ability to exercise independent oversight, a critical component to ensuring success.
Each volunteer board is responsible for governing the school, hiring the principal, setting policy and ensuring financial and academic viability, but a few might simply let the principal call the shots.
Some recent cases that have raised concern:
» Board members of Kula Aupuni Niihau a Kahelelani Aloha, a tiny bilingual school in Kekaha, Kauai, are related to the school’s administrator and defer to her in fiscal matters, according to a recent independent financial audit.
“During our audit, we noted very minimal fiscal oversight by the Board of Directors and no Finance Committee,” auditors concluded. “The fiscal operations and control are left to the Principal and the Accountant. The Local School Board currently does not have a member well versed in fiscal controls or financial statements.”