Truancy arrests common on Oahu

Sean Polzien
Sean Polzien
Frank Ormonde
Frank Ormonde
Butch Jones
Butch Jones

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

KAILUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Kailua woman who claims police were "abusive" and "excessive" while arresting her 16 year old daughter for truancy Tuesday tells Hawaii News Now she will be contacting a lawyer to explore legal options against the Honolulu Police Department.

As of Wednesday a total of five Kalaheo High School students had arrested this week for either skipping class or getting to school late.

Lindsey Aoki-Thompson and two of her friends were picked up by police Tuesday. Students said news of their arrests spread quickly on campus.

"I heard about it, yea. It's a big thing around this school right now," said Kalaheo Senior Briana Green.

Aoki-Thompson and her friends were arrested by officers in plain-clothes as the girls approached campus.

The girls say they were no more than five minutes late.

"They're like, 'You're being arrested for truancy,' and I was like, 'What?' And they were just like, 'Yeah, you need to sit down on the curb right now or we're going to throw you to the curb.'" Aoki-Thompson said.

Aoki-Thompson's mother explained her daughter was late because she felt like she was catching a cold, stopped at a store to get medicine so she would not have to stay home sick, and as a result was a few minutes late.

Police tell Hawaii News Now Aoki-Thompson was closer to 15 minutes late.

Whether it was 5 or 15 minutes, Aoki-Thompson's mother and students at Kalaheo say being tardy does not warrant arrest.

"It was kind of ridiculous. I just think that it's crazy. Cops have so much better things to do with their time and they're out here trying to get all of us in trouble," said Kalaheo Junior Sean Polzien.

"I think that if anything they should escort them back to class because with truancy you are trying to get them back into class instead of taking them down to the station and missing an entire day. They could have just escorted them to class and been like, 'OK, here's a warning," said Senior Frank Ormonde.

Last year on Oahu police arrested 1,383 teens for truancy. Of those arrests 147 of them were in police District Four which stretches from Kailua to Kahuku.

Police say they had officers on the look-out for truants at Kalaheo because they had received complaints from the neighborhood.

Area residents we talked to say there is some loitering and occasional graffiti, but for the most part the students are well behaved.

"They're good kids. They don't bother us. I don't see them hanging around here," commented resident Butch Jones.

Skipping school may seem like a good idea to some kids, but research shows it can lead to trouble.

According to a published study called "Truancy in Hawaii & Beyond" by the University of Hawaii's College of Education truants have a high risk of dropping out of school and between 80% and 89% of prison inmates say they were truants.

Some Kalaheo students tell us the arrests and the commotion they have caused will deter them from skipping school again. Others say they will still leave when they want, but they will go places where they are unlikely to get caught.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.