HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Nanakuli Charter School was enjoying a boom in online enrollment this fall due to the pandemic. But the Ka Waihona o ka Na’auao Public Charter School is now turning away hundreds of those students.
Monday was the school’s first day of instruction. It was the same day the school told the parents of more than 270 students that it didn’t have the approval to teach their children.
“I haven’t told my child. Sorry, it was so hard for these kids. Yeah we are all suffering,” said Morgan O’Bryant, whose fourth grader daughter Zoey was turned away.
“My gut dropped as I read the email that my child has been disenrolled from the program. I wanted to throw up.”
Under its contract with the Hawaii State Public Charter School Commission, the school is allowed to have about 650 in-class students and 100 students in its blended online and home school program.
But Ka Waihona’s principal Kalehua Krug said the school mistakenly thought the commission gave the okay to expand its blended program in March when many state schools were opting to go online.
“So, we kept on enrolling utilizing the understanding that we had the flexibility,” he said.
Fall enrollment at Ka Waihona’s blended online and home school program swelled due to the pandemic.
Parents said the blended approach allowed them to protect their children from in-class exposure to the virus and it provided them with the resources to home school their children.
Dawn Hopfe transferred two of her daughters from the Myron B. Thompson Academy downtown for similar reasons. They were among the students turned away yesterday.
“I‘m so distraught myself that I don’t know how to tell them,” she said. “I’m outraged, I’m livid.”
Yvonne Lau, interim executive director of the State Public Charter School Commission, said the school’s current budget and curriculum doesn’t allow for expansion.
“Late last week, the school had reached out to us about their enrollment being at almost 900. I almost fell out my chair when I heard that,” she said.
She said it could take up to a year to get approval to expand the program.
In the meantime, parents are forced to scramble to find an alternative program for their children or conduct home schooling classes by themselves.
“All of the students have the opportunity to enroll in their DOE home school,” Lau added.