Hawaii Ethics Commission: Charter School Workers Are State Employees

Flickr; James Cridland

If there was ever any doubt about whether a charter school employee works for the state, that issue was put to rest this week.

The Hawaii State Ethics Commission ruled Tuesday that Connections Public Charter School administrative assistant Eric Boyd is in fact a state employee — and therefore subject to the state ethics code. It will rule separately, as soon as next month, whether he violated the state ethics code on multiple counts.

"The commission's ruling removed any doubt that anyone had that people who work at charter schools are state employees subject to the state ethics code," Ethics Commission Executive Director Les Kondo told Civil Beat Wednesday evening. "Hopefully for the future it's well settled now that an interpretation has been made by the commission."

Boyd's attorney, Ted Hong, had argued that his client was not a state employee and therefore not subject to Hawaii's ethics code.

If the commission had found in his favor, it could have opened the door for charter schools throughout the state to make their own rules on ethics. And as Kondo has said, it would have put in question other Hawaii laws that govern state employees.

Hong has said the case highlights and threatens the independence of charter schools. He said charter school employees must have a certain degree of autonomy if the system is going to succeed.

The contested case hearing this week was the commission's first in 27 years. The two-day, quasi-judicial hearing wrapped up Wednesday in Hilo.

Have feedback? Suggestions?