Hawaii’s public school system has a communication problem. At recent community meetings across the state, parents and teachers have said they often don’t know who to go to with complaints. And, when they try, they run up against a steep chain of command and responses are few and far between.

“We want to have a voice and we want to be part of the solutions, and I feel like the DOE could be better at communication and inclusion,” said Andrea Dias-Machado, whose son goes to a Hawaiian immersion school in Pearl City.

The meetings are part of a Board of Education effort to gather community input as it drafts a new strategic plan for public education in Hawaii.

Input was sought for previous plans, but nonprofit leaders and educators say engagement efforts were lukewarm and lacked follow-through. This time around, turnout has been high and leadership seems to be listening, said Cheri Nakamura, director of HEʻE — Hui for Excellence in Education.

David Sun-Miyashiro of HawaiiKidsCAN said that during previous transitions from one strategic plan to another, he never heard a full accounting of why most student achievement targets were missed.

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