Christina Kishimoto’s *National Reputation* Beats Her to Hawaii

Christina Kishimoto FAKE Time CoverChristina Kishimoto, outgoing superintendent of the Gilbert, Arizona public school district, has been feted with attention by news media all over the country, acknowledging that she has indeed acquired the *national reputation* she coveted. The people of Hawaii, where Christina Kishimoto is due to take the helm of their school district, are not pleased by the news … because it’s apparent that Kishimoto knew about a devastating audit and million dollar repayment demand she dumped on her former employer. Question: what did the Hawaii Board of Education know about this explosive development, and when did they know it?

Kishimoto had to know this devastating audit report revealing her mismanagement (and worse) would be released soon after she accepted the job in HawaiiThe audit report, dated May 31, 2017, examined GPS data submitted on Kishimoto’s watch (2014-2016) to the Arizona Department of Education (ADE). State funding for Arizona school districts is based on Average Daily Membership, which routine annual audits (by the GPS pet auditors) had been determined to be inaccurate for about the same number of years.

“Auditors determined that the District did not accurately report FTE status for some students, inaccurately reported some students’ enrollment data, and incorrectly reported AOI data for some students, which resulted in the District’s ADM being overstated by 182.23. As a result, the District was overfunded by $962,767.69, which the District must repay to ADE.”

Arizona press quickly picked up the story, which was grabbed by the Associated Press and blasted nationwide. Coverage was included in Hawaii newspapers,  on Hawaii television and even in U.S. News & World Report. The coverage was not flattering for Kishimoto, to say the least, but the news was indeed national!

The Arizona Department of Education is demanding that Gilbert Public Schools repay nearly $1 million after an audit found the district miscalculated its student enrollment and attendance figures for years. Auditors determined the district overcharged the state by $962,767 over a three-year period that ended in fiscal year 2016.

Critics say the audit is a black eye for Gilbert Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto. The report, dated May 31 but released online Monday, comes just weeks after the Hawaii Board of Education selected her to lead that state’s Department of Education as superintendent.

The intrepid journalists who broke this story contacted the Hawaii BOE to ask if the selection committee was aware of the impending audit release when Kishimoto was selected to be the next Hawaii superintendent. As anyone who has ever held a job knows, when your boss has to defend you, it’s not good. Kishimoto’s bosses in Hawaii are defending her six weeks before she even starts the job!

3TV/CBS 5 asked the Hawaii State Department of Education if its selection committee was aware of the audit before hiring Dr. Kishimoto. “Every candidate, including Ms. Kishimoto, was thoroughly vetted during the selection process,” spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz responded by email. “Any questions regarding the Gilbert Public Schools system should be directed to the district.”

In other words, the Hawaii BOE most likely did not know about this audit and the obvious conclusion that Kishimoto was fleeing from the noxious odor before the news of her massive mismanagement in Arizona became public.  Commentary in Hawaii media included:

BoE: We Knew All About Kishimoto, And Picked Her Anyway
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Hawaii Island BOE member Pat Bergin, part of the superintendent search committee, said Thursday the board is “very much aware of all the concerns raised” about Kishimoto and “we’ve completely vetted her.” “We’ve researched every single complaint that came through,” Bergin said.
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Bruce Voss did respond, saying he hadn’t heard about the audit and had no comment.
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There’s much public wariness in Hawaii of high-priced mainland hires who bring baggage from earlier jobs. (Translation: Hawaii political insiders hire someone like her every time they want a short-termer.)
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Exactly what our DOE needs! A superintendent who can’t count. All joking aside, the DOE superintendent search committee knew from the get go that Kishimoto had problems involving her leadership at previous jobs and overlooked them. Sad state of affairs involving a public school system that wants to continue with status quo.

In an apparent bid to help Christina Kishimoto save face (and stay gone), GPS claimed the audit was unfair and that the state Dept of Ed was mean to them. It appears the GPS governing board believed ridiculous excuses Kishimoto concocted to cover her ineptitude, with something along the lines of “ADE is mean, I went to them for help and they got mad and audited GPS.” The GPS governing board then went forth and blasted the ADE for being mean. What’s incredible is that the board added claims that since a law is changing soon, GPS should not be held to account for the law that was in effect during the three years covered by the audit:

Carr pointed out that a newly signed state law will soon change how students are counted for funding purposes. “If they applied the new language of this bill, we would not have this issue at all,” he said in an interview.

GPS board clerk Reed Carr’s Facebook *explanation* of why GPS shouldn’t be required to give back money that ADE gave the district after GPS submitted false student data for funding:

What is most frustrating is that this audit came as a direct result of a GPS inquiry asking ADE to define how they were applying the instructional hour requirement. After an internal review that identified a potential risk, GPS asked ADE for its help to ensure compliance. ADE refused to meet with the district and instead initiated this audit.

ADE fired back about the false statements emanating from GPS in those ridiculous excuses:

ADE spokesman Stefan Swiat said Gilbert Public Schools was one of 32 districts audited as part of the agency’s annual review process. He said the district was randomly selected, not targeted. “It’s not like Gilbert is a special case,” he said. GPS had the largest amount owed of any district in this year’s auditing group, but Swiat said a handful of districts have owed more in previous years.

GPS is the state’s fourth-largest district. This year, auditors found that Tucson Unified, the state’s second-largest district, owed the state $46,269 during the same period. An audit of Peoria Unified, the state’s fifth-largest district, determined the state owed the district $7,766.

The new GPS governing board members already have been cutting services for students because families were fleeing the district during Christina Kishimoto’s reign. So what is the GPS governing board going to do to right this floundering ship? Spend tens of thousands more taxpayer dollars for lawyers to formally make the same lame excuses that ADE already shot down in the media!

The Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board voted unanimously to appeal an Arizona Department of Education audit that directs it to repay nearly $1 million for erroneous reporting of student enrollment numbers … SB 1156, which goes into effect Aug. 9, “will change the way that the full-time equivalent students’ minutes and hours of instructional time are calculated at the high school level,” said GPS attorney Jennifer N. MacLennan during a special meeting Tuesday. “That new calculation was not in effect at the time this audit has been published.”

ADE already called bullsh!t on this stupid excuse:

We performed an audit over the past three years; the law, the last three years, did not include SB 1156. Even if the SB 1156 was real, and existed at this time, we would have to perform another student calculation.”

No sh!t, Sherlock, the new law wasn’t in effect for 2014-2016. The GPS lawyer’s comments make absolutely no sense. It’s just another example of the GPS Lawyers Perpetual Employment Swindle, a subject for a new Westie post in the next few weeks (even though it’s a long, hot summer in Arizona).

Hawaii BOE, you’re getting a real piece of work in your new superintendent.

Citizens of Gilbert, Arizona: you know there’s much, much more to this story. Westie will publish another Fraud, Waste and Abuse post about Christina Kishimoto’s shenanigans that resulted in false student enrollment reports that were sent to ADE.  We know you can hardly wait!


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