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Update: Hawaii Schools May Not Skip Class After All

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on November 17, 2009 1:13 PM

As previously discussed in the Law and Daily Life post, Friday Furloughs: Judge Allows Hawaii to Cut Class, the Hawaii Department of Education (HDOE) was facing legal challenges to its planned Friday furlough program for Hawaii public schools. In a bid to save the state's crippled budget money, the HDOE proposed to dismiss school every Friday. In a surprising turn of events, angered parents sued.

As of today, an attorney in the class action suit on behalf of children in Hawaii public schools, Eric Seitz, announced he would be willing to put the pending suit on hold thanks to Governor Linda Lingle's proposal to tap the state's rainy day fund to prevent the furloughs. Lingle's plan further proposes teachers give up planning and collaboration days and convert them to classroom time. Hawaii currently has the least amount of classroom days of any state in the nation. The Honolulu Advertiser also reports Seitz will agree to any actions that "result in a reasonable and mutually agreeable resolution." Lingle's plan however, will only eliminate scheduled furlough days from January to June of next year. The furloughs planned until the end of this calendar year will stand.

Governor Lingle will need not only the cooperation of Seitz and his clients, but of others as well. Hawaiian law requires a 2/3 majority of both houses of its legislature to dip into the rainy day fund. In addition, changing the planning and collaboration days over to classroom time will require reopening discussions with the Hawaii State Teachers Association. Stay tuned.

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