Colson to Work Again at Hawaii Prep

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John R. Colson, the former principal of Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School who left under mysterious circumstances, has been rehired by Hawaii Preparatory Academy, the school where he previously worked for nearly 24 years.

Lindsay Barnes, HPA’s headmaster, announced today that John R. Colson is returning to HPA as acting director of development. He will begin his new duties at the prestigious private school March 1.

Colson had served as principal of Waimea Middle School for the past four years before leaving the school about two weeks ago. The board of directors for Ho‘okako‘o, the Oahu-based non-profit corporation that manages Waimea Middle School and charter schools on Molokai and Oahu, announced that the popular principal had resigned.

Parents of Waimea Middle School students were skeptical about Colson’s departure in the middle of a school year and staged several public protests, including roadside sign-waving and a “sick-out” involving more than half of the school’s 280 students.


When Ho‘okako‘o held a public meeting at the school last week, parents grilled the five board members present, questioning whether Colson had actually resigned. Board members said Colson had done nothing wrong but refused to comment further.

Colson has not spoken publicly about the matter but reportedly sent an email Sunday to Waimea Middle School staff thanking them for their support, and saying that he had been in contact with the school’s board and would not be returning.

HPA’s headmaster said the school was happy, albeit a little surprised, to have Colson back.


“Having a gentleman of John’s stature join our administrative team is not an opportunity that comes around every day,” Barnes said in a statement issued today. “This is not an opportunity I would have predicted, but it’s one we were ready to explore when it was confirmed that John was available.”

The statement contained the first public statement in recent days by Colson.

“I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with Lindsay and everyone else at HPA as they continue to improve the HPA experience,” he said.


According to Barnes, Colson first joined HPA in 1979 as a counselor and coach. He taught at the school for 11 years before being named headmaster in 1991. He served in that post until 2003, when he became principal of the middle school at the Keaau campus of Kamehameha Schools.

HPA operates two campuses in Waimea, with 606 students from 18 states and US territories and 18 foreign countries.


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