Parents raise concerns about lack of staffing, communication at new Wahiawa charter school

The school says parents could pull their kids out if they’re unhappy.

Parents raise concerns about lack of staffing, communication at new Wahiawa charter school

WAHIAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new charter school in Wahiawa is facing mounting complaints as parents raise concerns about staffing, communication and even safety.

A new charter school in Wahiawa is facing mounting complaints as parents raise concerns about staffing, communication, even safety.
A new charter school in Wahiawa is facing mounting complaints as parents raise concerns about staffing, communication, even safety. (Source: Vorsino, Mary)

Parents say at least 10 teachers and staff resigned from the Kamalani Academy since school started in August.

And they believe that’s one of several red flags.

But Kamalani’s founder, Kuuipo Laumatia, says teacher retention is a problem nationwide.

And she says the school has since filled all positions but one.

Parent Desiree Rose says she was looking forward to sending her 6-year-old daughter to the arts-integrated academy, which is just in its second school year.

But just two months in, she's on the verge of pulling her daughter out of the school.

"If they don't come up with a plan or they don't communicate or involve parents, then I'm done," Rose said.

Rose said she doesn’t know what her daughter is learning in class, and she says her requests for an assessment have been ignored by the principal.

“She hasn’t responded to my email. I have called the office. They’ve taken messages for me. I haven’t received a return call," Rose said. “There’s no feedback from the teacher. There’s no adequate class samples of her work. There’s nothing, so I’m completely in the dark.”

Hawaii News Now's calls to the principal were not returned.

Meanwhile, photos of an elementary student burned by hot saimin also raised concerns about safety and supervision at the school. A friend of the family says there was no staff around when the incident happened so the boy ran to his older brother for help.

Laumatia said the school has since banned students using the microwave, but says it’s impossible for teachers to be everywhere.

Parent Courtney Pascua just moved her two children out of Kamalani last week.

"When I left, I believe about 14 other students went with me," said Pascua.

Pascua says her son was bullied, and she says he was exposed to a porn site on a school iPad.

"No follow up from a principal, no follow up counselor, no closure for my child. Very extreme things that just got progressively worse and worse," Pascua said.

Laumatia said the principal has reached out and made herself available to parents with complaints.

She agrees the first year was rocky, but believes the academy is in a much better place now.

Laumatia says all teachers are licensed, and they are working on being better communicators by sending home newsletters and holding open meetings.

If parents are still unhappy, Laumatia says, "they can take their children somewhere else."

“We’re just a number. In and out. There’s someone else that’s going to take our place, I’m certain,” Pascua said.

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