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Friday, November 21, 2014
UH: Pono Choices Secretly Part of "Human Subject Research"
By News Release @ 8:15 PM :: 8665 Views :: Education K-12, Family, Health Care, Higher Education

The following exchange was released to the media by Rep Bob McDermott: 

October 31, 2014

Representative Bob McDermott

House of Representatives

Dear Mr. McDermott:

The University of Hawai'i at Manoa Chancellor's Office has asked me to respond to your Pono Choices student survey request. The University does not release survey instruments of ongoing research studies while they are still being used. As research on the Pono Choices curriculum is ongoing, no instruments will be released at this time.

All University human subjects' research is overseen by the University's Institutional Review Board which is responsible for ensuring protection of human subjects. Therefore, legislative oversight of this research is neither necessary nor appropriate. Political influence over research could potentially impact accreditation.

In summary, the Pono Choices survey instruments have been approved by the UH IRB and are part of an ongoing research project. Disclosure of the instruments while the study is in progress could compromise the integrity of the study. As the study is a legitimate University function currently in progress, release of the instrument is being withheld in order to prevent disruption of the study.


Elmer K Ka'ai Jr

Director of Advancement

Office of the Chancellor

University of Hawai'i at Manoa

  *   *   *   *   *

Office of the Chancellor

Honolulu, Hawai'i 96822

Re: Pono Choices Student Sex Survey     November 16, 2014

Thank you for your "Refusal Letter" of October 31, 2014 in response to my request for an overview of data collected from public school children. Thank you as well for verifying that Pono Choices is, in fact, a human research project and that public school children are being used as "human subjects for research."

I say with certitude that the vast majority of parents are unaware of this as it has never been disclosed. Research projects necessarily require "informed consent" when human subjects are involved. Such is the cornerstone of human subject protections, this not the case in Pono Choices, past or present.

I find your assertion that the University is entitled to withhold the information I requested to be scandalous. My request for information that should be readily available for review by parents and legislators is not "political influence over research." It is a simple request by an elected official, working on behalf of his constituents, to discover exactly what you are exposing their eleven year old school children to without their full knowledge or informed consent.

I find your response especially repugnant because you defend the "rights" of the University of Hawaii to "experiment" on eleven year old public school children, without the slightest consideration for the constitutional rights of the families you are unwittingly conscripting for your social engineering "experiments."

I find your statement that "legislative oversight of this research is neither necessary nor appropriate," to be the height of arrogance. I suggest it is indeed required in this case as we now know that Pono Choices has twice been sent back to the University of Hawaii (UH) for changes. The first time was in 2011, due to the graphic nature of some photos used. More recently, this past June, it was sent back, in order to correct a slew of bogus and misleading information. What do we now tell the parents whose children, through Pono Choices, received unduly graphic material, medically inaccurate and misleading information, and other factual errors? How do we go back and remedy the damage that the UH and the DOE have done? Quite simply, we can't.

I therefore demand that the University of Hawaii disclose all secretive activities (including data gathering) involving our underage schoolchildren in the name of "research," and to end the stonewalling of duly elected officials attempting to find the truth behind the University and DOE's obvious ideological agenda regarding public school curricula. It seems you are deathly afraid of the public knowing exactly what specific questions you are asking these pre-pubescent eleven year old children. Rest assured, I will not stop until I get the documents.

If the chancellor or the president of the U.H. system can no longer maintain transparency, openness and, or responsiveness concerning the use of taxpayer's money, the integrity of our public school curricula, or the wellbeing of Hawaii's families, then you should immediately resign your offices, albeit without a golden parachute!


Bob McDermott

State Representative

  *   *   *   *   *

PDF: Exchange of Letters

Star-Adv October 23, 2014: McDermott was Right About Pono Choices


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