Timeline of events - Access to Applied Behavior Analysis in Hawai'i

DOE on ABA (3/2017)

The Department of Education "provides ABA services as it relates to the educational needs of our students. For those that require it as part of their individualized education program, the Department has and will continue to provide access to ABA licensed staff and providers," said assistant Superintendent Suzanne Mulcahy. 

State struggles to provide services to students with autism (3/28/2017)

Hawai'i Behavior Analyst Licensure Law

Also known as Chapter 465-D, requires Licensed behavior analysts in schools (effective 7/1/2016); also requires Registered Behavior Technicians in schools (effective 1/1/2019). 

Insurers Authorize Paying for ABA During the School Day - Schools Say "NO WAY!" (7/2017)

Email exchanges between Debra Farmer (DOE), Suzanne Mulcahy (Assistant Superintendent, DOE) and Dr. Amanda N. Kelly (Licensed Behavior Analyst)

Email 1 Dr. Kelly to DOE

Email 2 & 3 DOE (Debra Farmer) to Dr. Kelly, and Dr. Kelly's reply

Email 4 DOE (Debra Farmer) to Dr. Kelly

Email 5 DOE (Debra Farmer) to Dr. Kelly

Email 6 Dr. Kelly to DOE

Email 7 Dr. Kelly to DOE

Email 8 DOE (Debra Farmer) to Dr. Kelly

Email 9 Dr. Kelly to DOE 

DOE refuses to provide ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) as a part of FAPE and then also denies our keiki their right to access medically necessary ABA during the school day on school campuses.

Legislators Demand Answers from the Department of Education (DOE)

Letter from Senator Dela-Cruz (August 3, 2017) Page 1 | Page 2

Families Attend Meet and Greet with Superintendent (9/18/2017)

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto had a difficult time interfacing with parents at a community meeting on the Big Island (9/18/2017)

Watch video (9/18/2017)

Dr. Kishimoto Responds to Legislators Demanding Answers (10/2/2017)

In a letter to Senator Dela Cruz, dated October 2, 2017, Dr. Kishimoto essentially said, "anyone can do ABA" and that "everyone is exempt in the DOE". Read the letter (Oct 2, 2017)

News Coverage of Superintendent Kishimoto's "Rocky Start"

Hawai'i News Now Coverage (10/5/2017) - Tachera, parent of two special needs children, told Hawaii News Now she was flabbergasted.  "I felt like my voice was silenced when she took away the microphone," she said. Dr. Amanda N. Kelly, a Licensed Behavior Analyst who's been sharing videos of several meetings on For Our Keiki's Facebook page, said she's been disturbed by how the superintendent is responding to parents' questions. "This is not how you interface in Hawaii," she said. "I'm obviously not from Hawaii, but you listen to the community."

Dr. Kelly Testifies to the Hawai'i Board of Education (11/7/2017)

Parents, Self-Advocates, & Siblings Testify to Hawai'i BOE (11/21/2017)

VIDEO: Geri Pinnow (parent)

VIDEO: Luke Pinnow (self-advocate)

VIDEO: Emma Pinnow (sibling)

VIDEO: Maile Rogers (parent)

VIDEO: Olympia Frink (parent)

VIDEO: Dr. Amanda N. Kelly (re: updates) 

VIDEO: Dr. Amanda N. Kelly (re: Debra Farmer cancelling ABA contracts) 

DOE Letter on ABA (Annie Kalama, 11/22/2017)

Parents, Self-Advocates & Teachers Testify to Hawai'i BOE (12/5/2017)

VIDEO: Geri and Luke Pinnow (parent and self-advocate)

VIDEO: Maile Rogers (parent)

VIDEO: Ashley Monden (DOE Special Education teacher)

VIDEO: Lisa Sakuda (former DOE parapro)

VIDEO: Dr. Amanda N Kelly (re: updates)

DOE Releases Legislative Reports (2017) AND (2018)

Suzanne Mulcahy (HI DOE Special Ed Admin) Under Ethics Investigation
January 25, 2018


DOE Official Fined for Using State Resources on her Doctoral Work 

"As assistant superintendent of OCISS, Mulcahy oversees development and implementation of DOE policies to advance student learning through accountability metrics, standards-based curriculum and student support. The office is also charged with helping schools meet state and federal mandates."

Contact the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB)

If you have concerns about a behavior analyst practicing unethically, contact the BACB

Learn about Upcoming Hawai'i Board of Ed. (HIBOE) Meetings

Audio of Board meetings will be broadcast live.  For information on how to access this audio broadcast, please contact the Board Office at [email protected] or (808) 586-3334

Sign up to receive the Hawai'i BOE Agenda prior to HIBOE meetings

Submit your written testimony, 24 hours in advance to: [email protected]

Contact Your Legislators 

Contact Governor David Ige

Contact our Governor and tell him your story. Be succinct, polite, and truthful. 

This is the member of Governor Ige's staff, (Meilyee Cheng) the DOE copies on correspondence.

Contact Hawai'i Disability Rights Center (HDRC)

The Hawai'i Disability Rights Center offers advocacy support, at no charge to families.

WrightsLaw Legal Resource Website

Wrightslaw is an excellent website with abundant resources on education and special education. 

 Court Cases Related to ABA

Ontario Family Launches Human Rights Complaint for Denying ABA During Day

October 13, 2017 - An Ontario family has launched a human rights complaint against a school board in an effort to get ABA provided for their son at school. 


Justices Nix Exclusion Barring In-School Coverage for Autism Treatment

October 5, 2017 - “Ultimately, we simply do not believe that the legislature intended to permit insurers to exclude coverage in the sensory-laden educational environment where children spend large portions of their days, or to require families to litigate the issue of medical necessity discretely in individual cases to secure such location-specific coverage for the treatment,” Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, who wrote the 22-page majority opinion, said. 


R.E.B. vs. State of Hawai'i

September 13, 2017 - The panel held that the Department of Education violated the IDEA by failing to specify Applied Behavior Analysis as a teaching methodology in the IEP because this methodology was integral to the student’s education. LEARN MORE

When a particular methodology plays a critical role in the student’s educational plan, it must be specified in the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) rather than left up to individual teachers’ discretion (R.E.B vs State of Hawai'i)". LEARN MORE

Endrew F v. Douglas County

Endrew’s parents contended that the final IEP proposed by the school district was not “reasonably calculated to enable [Endrew] to receive educational benefits” and that Endrew had therefore been denied a FAPE. Rowley, 458 U. S., at 207.

Endrew’s IEPs largely carried over the same basic goals and objectives from one year to the next, indicating that he was failing to make meaningful progress toward his aims. LEARN MORE

Instruction Must be 'Specially Designed' to Meet 'Child's Unique Needs' Through an IEP

Later, the Court returned to these concepts: “A focus on the particular child is at the core of the IDEA. The instruction offered must be ‘specially designed’ to meet a child’s ‘unique needs’ through an “[i]ndividualized education program.” §§1401(29), (14) 

Is Applied Behavior Analysis Education, Medication, or Both?

October 27, 2016 - ABA is perceived as lying on the intersection between medicine and education. While this provides for two potential sources of funding, the perception can hurt the cause by scattering responsibility and reducing accountability. These sectors provide a pretext for each other, leaving parents to fend for themselves with the deck stacked against them. The educational system provides, in an unfocused manner, the minimum required of it by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), and medical insurance can only be relied upon when specific mandates are in place. What is needed  is a clear division of responsibility with one sector—perhaps the educational—taking charge and seeing to it that the obligations are, in fact, discharged. READ MORE

Information Updated

1/28/2018 8:30 am HST