Maui News

Kishimoto Named New Hawai‘i Superintendent of Schools

May 19, 2017, 11:26 AM HST
* Updated May 19, 11:35 AM
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Christina Kishimoto, Ph.D. PC: Hawaiʻi State Department of Education

The State of Hawaiʻi Board of Education announced the selection of Christina Kishimoto, Ph.D. as the incoming Superintendent to lead the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education.

After a rigorous search process that spanned several months and 92 applicants, the BOE interviewed two final candidates on May 11, 2017 before making its final decision.

“Because both finalists were so highly qualified, it was a difficult decision for the Board,” said BOE Chairperson Lance Mizumoto who led the committee that conducted the search. “In the end, however, we felt that Dr. Kishimoto has the right combination of experience, knowledge, and focus to implement the strategic vision for educational change set forth in the Governor’s Blueprint for Education and the BOE and HIDOE’s newly revised joint strategic plan. We invite the state to join us in welcoming Dr. Kishimoto with respect, generosity, and warmth.”

Kishimoto signed a three-year contract and will start on Aug. 1, 2017. She will begin her transition out of her current role as Superintendent of the Gilbert Public Schools district in Arizona.

“It is with great excitement and honor that I accept this critical education leadership position for the State of Hawaiʻi and the Hawaiʻi Department of Education,” said Kishimoto. “In partnership with Chairperson Mizumoto, the Board, and Governor David Ige, I look forward to implementing a vision of excellence for all students. I look forward to working hand in hand with Hawaiʻi’s teachers, leaders, staff, parents, community members, and student leaders to execute on this vision of high quality college, career, and community readiness.”


“We are excited to have someone with a track record of reducing achievement gaps and a commitment to school empowerment to lead our public school system,” stated BOE member and former HIDOE teacher and administrator Patricia Bergin. “I am confident that Dr. Kishimoto will bring fresh ideas to our system, and her strong family ties to Hawaiʻi and her excitement to embrace the foundational pieces of our system, such as Nā Hopena Aʻo, demonstrates that she understands and respects Hawaiʻi’s uniqueness.”


University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Education professor and a member of the advisory group to the search committee Patricia Halagao said, “I was impressed with Dr. Kishimoto’s focus on school design models that celebrate and sustain our diversity of language and culture. As a former public school teacher and someone who now trains teachers, I also appreciate how Dr. Kishimoto elevates teachers as educational experts and aims to create a system conducive for us to thrive and do what we do best—teach.”

Kishimoto has been the GPS Superintendent since July 2014. Hawaiʻi education officials say she is recognized nationally as a visionary leader in education for her reform work in school turnaround and portfolio school development. Kishimoto earned a Masters in Public Affairs from the University of Connecticut and a doctorate from Columbia University. In June 2014, she completed two years of board service on the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, an organization focused on student centered practices and policies.

During the selection process, the BOE conducted a thorough background check, which included civil, criminal, financial, and educational verifications. Chairperson Mizumoto added, “In addition, district officials, former Superintendents, and other individuals in the Gilbert district were contacted. Various negative statements made about Dr. Kishimoto were either inconsequential or simply invalid.”


Next month, the BOE will hold a news conference to formally introduce Kishimoto as the new HIDOE superintendent.

Outgoing HIDOE Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi ends her term on June 30, 2017. The BOE plans to name an interim Superintendent to serve during the transition month of July.

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