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Gilbert schools chief leaving for Hawaii post in middle of controversy

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HONOLULU — The woman selected to lead Hawaii’s public schools is at the center of a nearly $1 million controversy with her current district in suburban Phoenix.

Auditors have found Gilbert Public Schools over-counted enrollment figures under Christina Kishimoto’s leadership, Hawaii News Now reported Thursday. Because Arizona schools get state funding
based on student attendance, the state overpaid the district $962,767.

The state now wants its money back.

The over-counting started before Kishimoto took over leadership of Gilbert’s schools and continued the two years she was there, former schools board Member Julie Smith said.

“I don’t believe it was intentional,” Smith said. “If the audit is done and the appeal is done and the state says no the district has to pay it.

“Responsibility does stop with the superintendent.”

Kishimoto did not respond to attempts to reach her for comment.

Her last day working for the Gilbert district was set for June 30.

Kishimoto was to begin her first day as superintendent of the Hawaii State Department of Education on Aug. 1.

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