By COLIN M. STEWART
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Paauilo Elementary and Intermediate School Principal Brian Paul Simon has been placed on leave mere weeks before the end of the school year.
School system officials would not say Wednesday why the administrator had been placed on leave, calling it a personnel matter, but the change in leadership at the school came six days after Simon was ordered to serve out a sentence on a DUI charge dating back to 2009.
Parents were sent a letter this week explaining that Simon would no longer be in charge at the school, said Hawaii Department of Education Director of Communications Donalyn Dela Cruz.
“There hasn’t been any firing,” she said. “A letter may have gone out yesterday. Parents of the school were notified that the current principal is on leave for the remainder of the school year, effective today, April 24.”
She added that former Honokaa High and Intermediate School Vice Principal Alan Brown would be stepping in to fill the vacancy.
“We congratulate and welcome him to the principalship,” Dela Cruz said.
The spokeswoman could not say how long Simon had been employed by the school system, nor how long he had been at the helm at Paauilo. She did not return a call by presstime after saying she would try to find out more information.
A woman who answered the phone at the school office on Wednesday morning would not answer any questions and referred all questions to the complex area superintendent’s office. Complex Area Superintendent Art Souza’s secretary said Souza was not in the office Wednesday, and suggested calling Dela Cruz.
A review of Hawaii court records available online revealed that Simon, 48, was arrested on June 27, 2009, on a DUI charge. Simon and his attorney, Robert Kim, entered a not guilty plea on March 31, 2010, and Simon was subsequently found guilty by Kona Circuit Court Judge Joseph P. Florendo on Jan. 26, 2011.
Simon was ordered to serve five days in confinement with one day credit for time served, and his license was to be suspended for 90 days. He was also ordered to pay $412 in fines and fees.
Simon appealed the judgement, but the court’s decision was upheld. At a hearing on the 18th of this month, the court agreed to reduce the suspension of his license. Simon’s license will be suspended for 30 days, with the remaining 60 days to be served using a special permit for work purposes only.
Simon must also undergo a substance abuse assessment and rehabilitation program, and is scheduled to appear before the judge again on Sept. 16 to check on his compliance.