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Lahainaluna boy’s dorm closure extended

Lahainaluna. PC: file Maui Now / Wendy Osher

A temporary closure of the boys’ dormitory at Lahainaluna High School has been extended, the state Department of Education has confirmed.

The closure went into effect on Tuesday, Feb. 22, due to ongoing staffing challenges at the 185-year-old boarding program. At the time, DOE officials said a lack of adequate adult male supervision presented a health and safety issue. 

According to a parent letter from interim Superintendent Keith Hayashi, the DOE is extending the closure of the boyʻs dormitory until newly hired dorm attendants are trained to support the program, school and Department policies.

He said the Department plans to seek input from the boarding program stakeholders prior to any long-term decisions about the program. A community meeting will be held in the near future, with details to be released as plans are finalized.

In the letter, dated March 11, Supt. Hayashi said, “The deep affection and pride the Lahianluna community and alumni have for the boarding program is very evident, and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Education shares this sentiment. We are actively working to bring the program into compliance with established standards and policies. Our goal is to improve the quality of the experience for all boarding students. This takes time. We ask for the community’s patience as we work through various issues to make positive changes.”

In a Feb. 12 letter to parents of students in the boarding program last month, TA Principal Lora-lea Grando said, “Temporary measures have been exhausted and are not sustainable.” The initial closure was implemented through March 20, 2022.

Four days after Grando’s letter was issued, Complex Area Superintendent Rebecca Winkie wrote a follow up letter acknowledging an investigation into misconduct allegations.

“An internal memorandum was issued around the same time to our boarding staff and school administrators to inform them of misconduct allegations, which include the inappropriate use of physical punishment in the form of assigning physical labor to students, the hazing of students, and the use of illegal drugs in the boarding dormitory. The internal memo has since been shared on social media and we want you to have the proper context of this situation,” Winkie wrote.

According to Winkie, the Department immediately initiated investigations regarding the allegations.

“In order to protect student and staff privacy and the integrity of the investigations, we cannot disclose details; however, please be assured that the safety and well-being of our students is a top priority. The allegations are being taken seriously, will be investigated thoroughly, and appropriate actions will be taken,” Winkie wrote.

She also spoke to the value of tradition that the Lahainaluna boarding program provides, saying the DOE is doing everything it can “to support and maintain the program at a high-quality level that our students deserve.”

During the initial one-month closure, affected students were offered three options to ensure continuity of learning: attend Lahainaluna in person as a day student; enroll in a distance learning program while maintaining status as a Lahainaluna student; or re-enroll in their originating pubic school, based on geographic residence.

According to Grando, students who selected either of the first two options would still be able to attend and participate in extracurricular activities and school-sponsored events at Lahainaluna as long as they meet existing participation criteria.

The girls’ dormitory is not impacted by this action.

A DOE spokesperson tells Maui Now that there are a total of 38 students in the boarding program, including 23 male and 15 female.

Back in 2015 Maui Now reported that the Lahainaluna boarding program had faced reduction in funding.  A “Taste of Aloha” fundraising event was held that year to support scholarships, dorm maintenance, and the boarding school agricultural department.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/03/22/lahainaluna-boys-dorm-closure-extended/

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