Kualapuu Elementary School Principal Lydia Trinidad has agreed take on the position of interim school principal at Waimea Middle School on the Big Island in the wake of the sudden resignation of WMS’s leader.
Kualapuu — a charter school and the largest elementary school on Molokai with about 400 students — operates under the direction of the non-profit Ho’okako’o Corporation (HC), which also serves as the local school board for WMS and Kamaile Academy in Wai’anae. Shortly after the resignation of John Colson from WMS in early February, Ho’okako’o asked Trinidad to step in until a replacement could be found.
Although Trinidad did not begin at WMS until Feb. 23, she did attend the community meeting Feb. 16 in Waimea where more than 300 people packed the room looking for answers. Community members demanded an explanation for the sudden mid-year change, calling the action a removal of Colson as opposed to a voluntary resignation.
Keith Viera, chair and one of the five members of the Ho’okako’o Corporation Board of Directors at the meeting, offered the following statement:
“John Colson resigned. We accepted his resignation and part of the separation agreement is neither of us can talk. We cannot comment on it,” he said. “John Colson did nothing ethically, morally wrong. We cannot talk about that separation and I’m very, very sorry for that.”
At the end of February, Hawaii Preparatory Academy announced that Colson would return on March 1 as Acting Director of Development. Colson has worked with HPA in various capacities for 23 years.
To help the Waimea community through this transition, HC facilitated a work group meeting on Friday that reviewed academic accomplishments and needs, current school programs and charted new opportunities for WMS students. HC says the recommendations of this work group will be incorporated in the current leadership search and the school’s academic improvement plan and budget for coming years.
For her part, Trinidad will help guide WMS through this transition until the end of the fourth quarter. This includes helping WMS create its own Local Advisory Panel, a community review panel that has been in place for years at Kualapuu. Trinidad said this means the “bulk” of her time will be spent on the Big Island during fourth quarter. She believes it will not have a negative impact on Kualapuu.
During this interim, Vice Principal Katina Soares takes over the day-to-day administrative tasks normally conducted by Trinidad.
“I’m not concerned,” said Trinidad. “I’m very confident in the staff (at Kualapuu).”
And how has the Waimea community accepted Trinidad during this transition period?
“The community has been really polite and professional with me,” said Trinidad. “They are moving forward, they are looking at tasks in front of them, they are focused on the children.”
When asked if the responsibility of running two schools spreads her too thin, Trinidad said, “there’s a chance of that. But I’ve accepted the position. I’m confident with both staffs. Both staffs pretty much have their acts together.”