August 13, 2023
Aloha Lāhainā teachers, administrators, staff, students and families,
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the strength, leadership and courage you’ve shown throughout this tragedy that has shaken Lāhainā, our Maui communities and all of Hawai‘i.
The loss you are experiencing is unimaginable — the loss of loved ones, of homes and neighborhoods, of a school and a community.
You are our priority. For our employees, I want to assure you that your jobs are safe and that you will continue to be paid while on administrative leave when schools are closed. For those who have relocated, even temporarily, the Office of Talent Management is working on a reassignment and relocation process for any team members who need it. Employment will be there when the time is right for you to return, wherever that may be. We are also prioritizing pending payments for casual hires. We will share more personnel-related information, including next steps and a point of contact shortly. Please prioritize taking care of yourself and your loved ones during this time.
For our families and students, our priority is to provide a safe learning environment. We are reopening most Maui schools this week, welcoming our employee teams on Monday and our students on Wednesday. King Kekaulike High, Princess Nahi‘ena‘ena Elementary, Lāhainā Intermediate and Lahainaluna High remain closed and will reopen when it is safe to return. Sadly, King Kamehameha III Elementary on Front Street was damaged beyond repair. While assessments are being made about the closed campuses, we are looking at other options for our students who remain in West Maui including our King Kamehameha III Elementary students.
For students and families who were displaced by the fires and are living outside of Lāhainā, we encourage you to enroll your keiki in the neighborhood school where you are staying, even if your housing situation is temporary. When children are in school, we can provide support including meals and mental health support.
We are establishing a dedicated phone line to help answer questions from staff and families. Mental health supports – in person and telehealth counseling – are also being set up for employees and students; resources can be found here in the meantime: https://sites.google.com/k12.hi.us/maui-school-resources/home.
We will keep you informed of new developments and we sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding during this most challenging time.
I want to recognize Canoe Complex Area Superintendent Rebecca Winkie, as well as her Lāhainā principals Jennifer Everett, Gary Kanamori, Stacy Bookland and Richard Carosso for leading through this tragedy with compassion for their teams and communities while experiencing this terrible tragedy first-hand.
Our hearts are heavy, and the road to recovery will be long, but I have faith in our collective strength to support one another and our students. Together, we will heal, we will rebuild, and Lāhainā and Maui will thrive once more.
Our students look up to us not just as educators, but as beacons of hope and resilience. I want to thank you for your dedication to caring for our students and their families and your communities.