School officials yesterday cancelled on-campus activities and classes for students in light of increased disruptions caused by at least three student fights over the course of two days. To prevent the disorderly conduct from escalating, the school was temporarily on lockdown Wednesday afternoon and students were sent home 45 minutes early, Thursday, in increments.
The Hawaii Police Department (HPD) is assisting school officials with security measures and made eight student arrests yesterday. Those students were released from police custody but face disciplinary actions that for some may include suspension. An investigation into their disorderly conduct is ongoing.
School officials say the root of the arguments between involved students is a misunderstanding between local, Micronesian and Marshallese cultures and lifestyles.
“This misunderstanding of cultural assimilation by Marshallese and Micronesian families is not isolated to Kealakehe High School,” stated Complex Area Superintendent (CAS) Arthur Souza. “This is a community issue that we are addressing.”
CAS Souza noted that he has been in discussions with lawmakers and local agencies about the topic of cultural assimilation and the misunderstandings that exists in the Kona community.
The Department of Education has temporarily assigned four additional security personnel to Kealakehe H.S. campus.
“We want to thank the Hawaii Police Department and the Kealakehe High School faculty for their actions in ensuring a safe environment for students,” stated Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “What could have been explosive situation was contained, and community issues that have played a role in the recent disruptions are being addressed. We also thank the parents for their understanding.”
Monday’s class schedule at Kealakehe H.S. will be modified to accommodate Friday’s loss of instruction time. Aside from additional security, the school will also have counselors on hand to address harassment and bullying.