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Former Big Isle Educator Retires Under Cloud

January 21, 2014, 12:58 PM HST (Updated January 21, 2014, 1:00 PM)
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John Sosa, an award-winning Oahu principal with a long history as a Big Island educator, has retired under the cloud of an internal investigation being conducted by the state Department of Education.

Sosa retired at the end of 2013, DOE spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz confirmed. He had been principal of Kaiser High School since 2008.

The DOE had placed Sosa on paid leave in late September. At that time, Justin Mew was appointed interim principal, a role he will continue to fill until a permanent candidate is chosen.

DOE officials have declined to comment on the probe.

“The personnel investigation is ongoing and until it is concluded, details of the investigation remain confidential,” Dela Cruz said.

Last year, Sosa was named Principal of the Year by the Hawaii Association of Secondary School Administrators. The organization’s national group nominated him for the 2013 National Distinguished Principals Program, an honor eventually won by Naomi Matsuzaki of Kahaluu Elementary School on Oahu.

Sosa’s Big Island background dates to 1969 when he began a seven-year stint as a teacher at Hilo Union Elementary.

From 1976-78, he served as vice principal at several schools including Pahoa High and Intermediate, Hilo Union and Konawaena.

From 1979-80 he was principal at Pahoa Elementary, before being transferred to Waiakea High School, where he was principal until 1985.

That year he was promoted to a district educational specialist and from 1986 to 1991 served as deputy superintendent for the island-wide Hawaii District.

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