Kaneohe charter school evicted to make way for long-term care facility

Kaneohe charter school evicted to make way for long-term care facility

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

KANEOHE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Evicted!

A Kaneohe public charter school has moved out of its building on Saturday, to make way for a long-term care facility.

Students, parents and teachers spent the day gathering up their belongings, with another school year beginning in just two days.

The Hakipuu Learning Center is normally busy this time of the year, with school starting on Monday.

But instead of getting ready for another year, they're getting ready to move out.

The State Health Department owns the facility and told the school back in March that they'd have to move out by June 30th, but they were given an extension until 6 p.m., Saturday.

The state plans to build a long-term care facility in place of the school.

"The state doesn't have a lot of choices for a location and to build something on the Hawaii State Hospital grounds that we can transition patients from Hawaii State Hospital to the facility is the best possible solution," State Health Department spokesperson Janice Okubo said. "We do need that land, we don't have a formal agreement with the school and we felt that it was pretty clear in 2005, when we had asked them to look for another location."

But it's not the solution Hakipuu officials were hoping for. The school filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health, saying the proper steps to eviction weren't taken. Just yesterday, a judge ruled in favor of the state, keeping the eviction up.

"It's not going to be easy, it's going to be fractured, it's nowhere near the kind of set up that we need to do our project based, Hawaiian-based curriculum as effectively as possible," Hakipu board member Charlene Hoe said.

Hoe says school for the 70 students in grades four through 12 will continue this year, but in four different sites.

"My senior year, what am I going to do, we're going to be all over the place, won't have a place to go, now it's like my senior year is going to be crazy," Hakipu senior Schaeann Enoka said.

The school, which pays no rent, is in the Bishop Building of the State Hospital.

Health Department officials say a new facility is important, with the overcrowding at the hospital and a need for care for the severely mentally ill.

The group plans to hold a rally near their old building Sunday, starting at 1 p.m. They also have a preliminary injunction hearing set for August 10.

"It's definitely going to be a challenge, it means breaking up our school into different areas, so there's not as many eyes to watch and help our students," Hakipu teacher Erin Watanabe said.

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