Troublesome school issues tackled by Waianae Neighborhood Board
The Education Committee of the Waianae Neighborhood Board met on January 9, 2014, to discuss current school issues. Chairman Calvin Endo revealed how schools struggle because the state Department of Education has neglected to provide sufficient training. One program that was cited for lack of direction in the schools is the Race to the Top. Endo reported that insufficient training hinders its implementation. Secondly, there are no plans to train people to help decrease the high rate of suicide and bullying in the schools. He feels that schools should direct more attention to these problems with preventative strategies such as holding school assemblies and by establishing an all-state campaign and program to obliterate these problems.
Endo also reported that the Strive HI Performance System has determined that some of our schools are failing. This new accountability and improvement system was installed in May 2013 and allows the state to waive certain requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). With the knowledge they are working in a failing school, teachers are choosing to leave, resulting in large staff turnovers. Frequent staff turnovers make Waianae schools go begging for teachers because the commute to the Waianae Coast is difficult, and the rural area implies a rougher breed of students. Waianae High and Waianae Intermediate are now labeled a Focus (failing) School.
Another issue concerns the hiring of police officers or a state sheriff to patrol school campuses. Endo noted that Honolulu is the only county that does not have police protection in its schools. It was suggested that personnel from the State Sheriff’s Office could be hired since they are state employees. Another suggestion was to deputize the existing security personnel on campuses in order to enforce rules, use force to subdue troublemakers, and to protect themselves and others in dangerous situations. He added that students are bringing weapons on campus where security personnel are unarmed.
An on-going concern is with student enrollment at Leihoku Elementary School with an enrollment surpassing a thousand students. The campus is unable to expand and build more classrooms due to lack of space. It was suggested that the state negotiate with OHA that owns the adjoining property in order to acquire more property for expansion. The school is now at “over capacity.” With the increased enrollment there are more traffic and parking problems. Moreover, motorists speeding on Leihoku Street, which fronts the school, is a big concern. It was suggested that the City & County put rumble strips around the school to slow down traffic.