The Board of Education filled three seats Tuesday on the Charter School Review Panel left vacant when members resigned in protest last month.
The new members are:
» Jerelyn Watanabe, assistant registrar and math and science teacher at embattled Myron B. Thompson Academy. She also serves on the academy's local school board.
» John Colson, former principal at Waimea Middle School. Colson's local school board, Ho‘okako‘o Corp., abruptly announced his departure Feb. 7 without explanation. The board later said Colson resigned to focus on statewide charter school issues.
» Gary Kai, executive director of the Hawaii Business Roundtable and a longtime banker.
In a discussion before approving the nominees, the full Board of Education responded to concerns about Watanabe's and Colson's appointments.
Board Chairman Don Horner said Watanabe joined the local school board at Thompson Academy after questions about fiscal management and operations at the school had already come to light and were being dealt with.
The academy's operations have been under investigation by the state attorney general as well as the Ethics Commission. A state audit released in December pointed to "possibly fraudulent" fiscal practices at the school, along with a host of other concerns.
Horner and other board members also said they supported Colson's appointment, and said his recent resignation was not cause for concern.
Board member Jim Williams said Colson is "conscientious" and "well-respected."
Those approved Tuesday fill the seats of three longtime members who resigned in protest over the Board of Education's decision to convert Laupahoehoe High and Elementary School into a charter school this fall despite the panel's rejection.
Horner said Watanabe's appointment is for a three-year term, while the appointments for Colson and Kai expire at the end of June.