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Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Kahuku Mother Sues Board of Education over Secret, Closed-Door Meeting and Vote
By News Release @ 6:09 PM :: 1713 Views :: Honolulu County, Education K-12, Energy, Ethics

Kahuku Mother Sues Board of Education over Secret, Closed-Door Meeting and Vote

News Release from attorney Lance Collins

Kahuku, Oahu -- Sunny Unga, Kahuku resident and mother of public school children, has filed suit against the Board of Education for holding a secret, closed door meeting last February, that resulted in denying her petition for rulemaking, violating the state Sunshine Law.

In January, Ms. Unga petitioned the Board of Education to adopt a new rule that requires schools and libraries to hold a community meeting before providing official comments regarding development projects proposed within five miles of a school or library.

The petition came after it was discovered the Department of Education raised no concerns about the close proximity of proposed windmills to Kahuku Elementary -- other than "student will hear the windmills" – in its official comment for the Na Pua Makani windwill EIS.

Within weeks of receiving the official petition, the Board of Education held a secret meeting behind closed doors where they deliberated and voted to deny the petition. The Board did not provide notice of the meeting to the public nor did it allow the public the opportunity to testify before they made their decision.

After the Board held its secret meeting, they informed Ms. Unga that they had denied her petition.

The Board admits they did not provide notice of the meeting and failed to provide the public with notice of their decision. The Board instead argues that it was allowed to pass an administrative rule which exempted itself from the requirements of the Sunshine Law.

Ms. Unga is asking the First Circuit Court to void the Board's action denying her petition, to require the Board to consider her petition at a public meeting, and to invalidate the Board's rule attempting to exempt itself from the Sunshine Law.

"The community asked the Board to consider transparency in Department of Education decision-making regarding proposed developments around schools and libraries. Sadly, the Board chose to reject it in a secret, closed-door meeting," said Ms. Unga's attorney Bianca Isaki.

"The Sunshine Law is to ensure that the formation of public policy is done in the open. No agency has the power to adopt a rule that exempts itself from this mandate," said Ms. Unga's attorney Lance D. Collins.

PDF: Lawsuit

PDF: Petition to BoE

  *   *   *   *   *

BoE Holds Illegal Secret Meeting on Windfarms

Ililani Media, April 17, 2020: … Sunny Unga, a Kahuku resident and mother of public school children, petitioned the Hawai`i Board of Education to adopt a new rule that requires schools and libraries to hold a community meeting before providing official comments regarding development projects proposed within five miles of a school or a library. The petition was hand-delivered on January 15, 2020.

The petition came after it was discovered the Department of Education raised no concerns about the close proximity of proposed windmills to Kahuku Elementary -- other than "student will hear the windmills" – in its official comment for the Na Pua Makani windmill EIS.

The Board of Education or one of its committees held a secret, closed-door meeting on February 6, 2020, that resulted in denying her petition for rulemaking, violating the state Sunshine Law.

The Board did not provide notice of the meeting to the public nor did it allow the public the opportunity to testify before they made their decision.

The BOE Chairperson sent a letter to Ms. Unga informing her of the decision.

Ms. Unga filed a complaint with the Office of Information Practices (OIP)….

Ms. Unga filed an appeal with the First Circuit Court to void the Board's action denying her petition, to require the Board to consider her petition at a public meeting, and to invalidate the Board's rule attempting to exempt itself from the Sunshine Law….

read … UPDATES re Proposed Na Pua Makani Wind Farm

CB: Lawsuit: Closed-Door Board Of Ed Meeting Violated Sunshine Law

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