A Letter from Hawaii DOE Superintendent, Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto

Here is the PDF of the Superintendent Letter.

June 5, 2020

Aloha parents and guardians,

I want to personally thank you for supporting your child’s education over these past few months. This pandemic has forced families to not only increase their responsibilities as caregivers but also as educators. Mahalo for working with us to deliver your child’s education amid these challenging times.

Moving forward, the delivery of public education will look different in classrooms and schools across our nation. We recognize that our learning channels must be expanded and improved to incorporate more technology and distance learning. The pandemic has also amplified areas of inequity, including a lack of devices in some households and inconsistent connectivity in rural communities. I want to reassure you that I am committed to achieving universal access to technology. It is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

As part of this effort, the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education (HIDOE) has distributed 12,000 devices to students statewide over the past couple of months, ordered 10,000 more to support learning over the summer, and will launch mobile learning labs to provide WiFi access and push learning into our hard-to-reach communities. However, we cannot do this alone. The HIDOE is part of a Broadband Hui working collectively to articulate a resolution to the state’s connectivity and access challenges and advance this effort.

The Department recently launched a multi-phase distance learning survey for teachers, secondary students and families to assess other gap areas and identify where we can enhance our support. Surveys were distributed to all HIDOE teachers and eligible secondary students this week, and the family survey will be distributed in early June.

We are going to grow from this experience and apply all that we’ve learned to better support our students through the summer and into the fall. The HIDOE ʻohana is diligently working on plans for next school year and we are relying on the expertise of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state’s Department of Health to inform our policies and procedures.

Parents will undoubtedly have concerns about their children physically returning to campuses. As a parent and on behalf of our leadership team, many of whom are parents of public school students, I assure you that your child’s safety and well-being is truly of the utmost importance. It will always be at the heart of every decision we make as we navigate these unprecedented times.

We look forward to welcoming our haumana back in the fall and will continue to communicate with you over the coming weeks regarding our plans for school year 2020- 21. Stay safe and have a restful summer break.


Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto Superintendent

HIDOE COVID-19 Information and Updates


March 24, 2020

Dear HIDOE parents and guardians,

We know these are uncertain and anxious times for everyone in our communities and we sincerely appreciate your patience and aloha as our response to this health crisis continues to evolve and we make the needed adjustments for health and safety.

Based on the latest guidance and information from health officials and our elected leaders, the Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) will be aligning with the emergency orders directing residents statewide to remain at home and work from home through April 30. This means school facilities will be closed to students until at least April 30 and traditional in-school instruction is on hold until schools reopen.

HIDOE and charter schools will be sending out information about enrichment opportunities, including online resources and instructional packets. We encourage you to look out for information from your child’s school and teachers.

Please know that our public school system is still operating during this crisis. We are using alternative methods as we maximize our telework approach and find ways to remain connected with students. The HIDOE team is actively engaged in providing much-needed, modified services during these unprecedented times, including thousands of meals for children and enrichment opportunities.

We are focused on minimizing disruption for students and supporting their emotional well-being. For tips and tools to navigate and support your child’s continuous learning, please visit bit.ly/HIDOEVirtualLearningParentResource.

By the end of this week, we will be sharing specific plans for our 10,000 eligible graduates. We will also be sharing out next-level information based on the planning work accomplished by our teachers and principals to guide us through the end of the school year.

The Department of Education remains focused on and committed to our educational mission and we look forward to resuming instruction and a sense of normalcy as quickly as possible. Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation.


Dr. Christina Kishimoto Superintendent

HSDB’s ASL Handwashing Video

We value our students’ health. Sometimes, students think they are washing their hands long enough, but this video made by our ASL team will show just how long we need to wash our hands to stay healthy.


Principal’s Message

Aloha HSDB ‘Ohana –

Our third quarter has been an exciting one – full of many powerful learning opportunities and fun student activities.  As we head into Spring Break, I’d like to share some of the highlights of the past quarter and some of the things we can look forward to in the months ahead.  After a lengthy collaboration with the University of Hawaii at Manoa Center on Disability Studies, our website is now fully accessible. Special thanks to our technology coordinator Joshua Smith for his diligence in seeing this project through to completion.  Please bookmark our website (http://hsdb.k12.hi.us), and visit it often for updates on school information. 

In February, HSDB hosted the Western Regional Academic Bowl, which is a Gallaudet University Youth Program.  Teacher Brien Nakamoto served as a co-host coordinator for this massive event, and he did a wonderful job! Many of our staff members also served as volunteers over the weekend as it takes MANY hands to pull off a successful event of this scale. I was very proud of our student team – Raeann Bumanlag, Brandon Chung, Markus Thompson, and Wendell Tagura.  The competition is very intense and they represented our school so well, showing great poise under pressure, sportsmanship, and aloha for their opponents.  Special mahalo to our team coaches Olivia Malcolm and Darlene Ewan.

The end of the school year brings big transitions and the biggest school transition is graduation!  This year we have ten students who will participate in graduation, and our graduation committee is busy planning for this important day.  This year, graduation will be held on Wednesday, May 27 at 5:30 PM. Our seniors are fundraising for the various costs associated with senior activities, so please support their efforts if you can. 

Our school is guided by its academic plan, and our staff is currently in the midst of finalizing our plan for the 2020-2021 school year.  Please look for our final plan on our website at the end of May.  In prior years, schools developed multi-year plans, however, this year we were asked to create a one-year plan in anticipation of the adoption of the 2030 Promise Plan, an ambitious 10-year plan that incorporates five powerful themes: Hawaii, Equity, School Design, Empowerment and Innovation.  Please check it out to read about what’s ahead for our department.

The principal position has been advertised and a permanent replacement will be found soon.  In the meantime, I remain committed to this school and its children.  I love being here and appreciate everyone’s patience and support.  Have a wonderful Spring Break.


         Me ka ha‘a ha‘a,


         Kinau Gardner

Academic Bowl 2020

February 21, 2020

Aloha Academic Bowl Teams, Families and Friends:

On behalf of the students, staff, and community of the Hawaii School of the Deaf and
the Blind (HSDB), welcome to Honolulu, Hawaii for the 2020 West Regional Academic
Bowl Competition! Thank you to Gallaudet University Youth Programs for allowing us
the honor to co-host this auspicious event – the first time in Academic Bowl history that
Hawaii has been a host site.

HSDB was established in 1914 and currently serves 64 students from across the State
of Hawaii in a day and residential program. Our campus sits at the foot of Diamond
Head at the edge of Waikiki. We have been competing in the Academic Bowl since
2008, and over the years, a few of our teachers have also served as coaches for the
West Regional Academic team.

I’d like to thank and recognize HSDB teacher Brien Nakamoto. Brien has been HSDB’s
coach for over seven years but this year stepped aside to take on the role as Co-Host
Coordinator for the Regional Academic Bowl Competition. Mahalo to HSDB teachers
Olivia Malcolm and Darlene Ewan, who serve as coaches this year.

We have looked forward with much anticipation to this weekend – and it’s finally here!
On Sunday, our school will host the Farewell Reception, and I hope you all will be able
to come and see our beautiful campus and experience the aloha spirit that lives at

Me ka ha‘a ha‘a,

Kinau Gardner,
Acting Principal, Hawaii School for the Deaf and the Blind


For more information about Academic Bowl 2020, please visit the link of the 2020 West Regional Academic Bowl.

HSDB Receives National ACCREDITATION!!!

For the first time in HSDB’s history, HSDB is ACCREDITED!!! On July 1, 2019, the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC) gave HSDB a Six-Year Accreditation Status. HSDB is now one of the few schools for Deaf and hard of hearing students in the U.S. with national accreditation.

To maintain accreditation, WASC will conduct a 2-day visit in 2025 to insure HSDB is continuing its excellent work and have addressed areas WASC identified as needing improvement. Congratulations to all the Teachers, Educational Assistants, Houseparents, Administration, Support Staff and School Community Council members who made this accreditation possible.

Family Learning Adventure

Our annual Family Learning event will happen this weekend, June 29th and 30th, at Camp Mokule’ia. This is a fun-filled educational event for HSDB families. Our key speaker is Sheena McFeely Mansfield. The Mansfields are a family of four that live in Austin, TX who exclusively use the vibrant American Sign Language (ASL) as their home language as well as primarily out of the home. Manny, Sheena, and their oldest daughter Shaylee are deaf while their youngest daughter Ivy is hearing. 

Sheena and her family appeared in a Born This Way episode, “Deaf Out Loud.” She is also the author of the best-selling book, Shay and Ivy: Beyond the Kingdom. The family has their own ASL program on the internet, ASLNook, available to anyone who wants to learn ASL – free.

In addition to the program for parents with Sheena, children will have plenty of activities – drama, arts and crafts, games, low and high ropes, and more – to make this an enjoyable weekend for all.