Embattled High School Controversy

Connie Starzynski
Connie Starzynski
Marty Plotnick
Marty Plotnick

NIU VALLEY (KHNL) -- A bitter controversy brewing in East Honolulu's Niu Valley. A group of mostly retired residents say "not in my backyard" to a high school addition to the Waldorf school.

This Waldorf school started out small 46 years ago, and grew to a campus serving 240 kids from toddlers to 8th graders. Now, it's in a battle to add a high school with 100 students.

"We followed the process and the zoning board of appeals, month after month has not given a decision, we are only looking for a decision we want a decision made so we know where we stand because we're really at a stalemate at this point," said the schools administrative director, Connie Starzynski.

But these community members say no way.

"My feeling is get the hell out of the community. If you don't want to deal with us on a community on a community basis, you don't deserve to be part of our community," said Niu Valley resident Marty Plotnick.

Plotnick moved in three doors down from the school 25 years ago. He says the added noise and traffic 100 teenagers will bring is just too much. But the school disagrees.

"We feel that we are educating children for the future. Children need to be educated and that's what we're here to do and we feel that our children can make a positive impact on any neighborhood," said Starzynski.

The schools lease at its Kahala high school campus is set to expire so they want to build here. But, they've been stopped by the City's Zoning Board of Appeals because of petitions from these residents. Monday, the school filed a lawsuit.

"How do I feel about the lawsuit? I'm insulted!" said Plotnick.

"We want to sit sit down and talk, that's all I can say in response. And we're happy to do that at any time that we can arrange it," said Starzynski.

A decision in the case is pending.

The school says their lease in Kahala may expire as soon as 2009, and want to break ground on the new campus as soon as possible.