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Board appoints Oahu principal as interim superintendent

The Maui News

Waipahu High School Principal Keith Hayashi has been named interim superintendent of the state Department of Education and will start his term no later than Aug. 1, the department announced.

The state Board of Education voted on Thursday to appoint Hayashi, with outgoing Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s contract set to expire at the end of July.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected to lead our public school system during this transition,” Hayashi said Thursday afternoon. “This is such a critical time for the department, and I am committed to connecting with our schools, complex areas and state office leaders to ensure we are well prepared for the upcoming school year.”

Hayashi added that “out of respect to Superintendent Kishimoto and the transition process, I will not be speaking to future actions in detail at this time.”

With COVID-19 cases stabilizing and vaccines now available to children as young as 12, the DOE announced in May that it planned to reopen public schools for daily, in-person learning next academic year. On Thursday, Hayashi said he was focused on ensuring a “smooth transition” for students.

“I think it’s important for me to, as I shared, to reach out and to touch bases with the schools and to see where everyone’s at,” he said. “I do know in talking to my colleagues that everyone is looking to open in person as I talk with other school principals. So that’s at this point where we’re looking at putting our efforts — a smooth transition for in-person learning for our students.”

He also said that he wanted to address Neighbor Island school challenges and pointed out that Waipahu is part of Hawaii Academies, a group of school officials from across the state who work closely on local issues.

“What’s really wonderful is when we all get together, leaders from across the islands, you know, we’re able to share some of our challenges as well as our successes,” Hayashi said. “As a collaborative we learn from each other and move our school designs and our school efforts forward.”

Hayashi, a 56-year-old alum of Kaimuki High School, confirmed that he planned to apply for the permanent position.

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