April 8, 2009 – Laupahoehoe, Hawaii
VIDEO: David Corrigan
Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School is considering all options as it moves towards an uncertain future, and the possibility of becoming a charter school was the topic of a public panel discussion on Tuesday evening.
Speakers on the panel, seen in this video, were Maunalei Love, the director of the Charter School Administration Office, and Lynn Fallin, the executive director of Ho`okako`o, a Kamehameha Schools non profit corporation.
Also on the panel, two Big island residents with first hand experience in starting a charter school: John Thatcher of Connections Charter School and Patti Cook from Waimea Middle School, a conversion charter. Both Thatcher and Cook warned that operating a charter school is a lot of work, but can be rewarding.
Charter schools are “public” schools (not private schools), and receive money to operate from the State of Hawaii. However, charter schools are not part of the Department of Education school system, as they are operated by their own elected local school boards, and make their own decisions about curriculum and school operations.
Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School was founded in 1883 at Laupahoehoe Point, and was rebuilt on higher ground at its current 35-acre campus after the 1946 tsunami which destroyed the old school with tragic loss of life. The school and facility is a beloved part of central Hamakua Coast life. The school is being restructured for missing annual progress benchmarks under the federal No Child Left Behind law. The school is has been (and still is) a potential target for closure and consolidation.