Interim Board of Education officials OK’d by Senate panel


Interim Board of Education officials OK’d by Senate panel

By Nanea Kalani

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 01, 2013

Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s two appointments to the state Board of Education received nods from the Senate Education Committee this week.

Following a public hearing Wednesday, the committee unanimously voted in favor of Amy Asselbaye and Patricia Hala­gao, who were appointed in July as interim members.

The appointments, each for a three-year term ending in 2016, next head for a final vote by the full Sentate expected today.

Voters in 2011 approved a state constitutional amendment that did away with an elected school board.

Asselbaye, the former chief of staff and longtime aide to Abercrombie in Congress and at the state Capitol, was named to the voluntary board’s Oahu seat.

She most recently was the Hawaii-based chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard before resigning in June to devote more time to her position as director of strategic and community development at the Wai­anae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.

Asselbaye said her day job involves acting as a liaison between the health center and schools on the Leeward Coast as part of an effort to improve overall health and wellness for the area’s families.

On the board, she said she hopes to be able to address health and wellness issues as they relate to student achievement.

The committee received written testimony from more than 30 individuals in support of her appointment, including notes from Abercrombie, Gabbard and BOE Chairman Don Hor­ner.

The lone opposing testimony criticized Asselbaye’s close ties to the governor, prompting one lawmaker to ask whether Asselbaye feels she can make decisions independently.

“Absolutely,” she responded.

Halagao, an associate professor in curriculum studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s College of Education, was appointed to an at-large seat on the nine-member board.

As an educator of future teachers, she said she hopes to act as a bridge between higher education and public education.

Her appointment received almost two dozen pieces of supporting written testimony, including from the governor; President Barack Obama’s sister, Maya Soe­toro-Ng; and Don Young, dean of UH-Manoa’s College of Education.

Asked about their initial impressions serving on the board, both nominees said the BOE could improve its outreach and communication with the public, teachers, parents and students, perhaps by holding community meetings and by upgrading its website.

Asselbaye and Halagao replaced outgoing members Kim Gennaula and Charlene Cua­resma, whose terms ended in July.

The Senate Education Committee also supported gubernatorial nominees Lisa DeLong and Scott Parker to the Hawai‘i Teacher Standards Board, which sets standards for licensing teachers in Hawaii’s public schools.

DeLong is principal at Kailua Intermediate, and Parker is principal at Jefferson Elementary.