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Maui community rallies around long-time teacher put on leave by the DOE

The DOE will not say why the kindergarten teacher at Haiku Elementary School is being disciplined
Updated: Sep. 28, 2020 at 7:33 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds rallied in Haiku, Maui on Monday to show support for a long-time educator who was recently put on leave.

The Department of Education will not say why the kindergarten teacher at Haiku Elementary School is being disciplined, but did confirm she has been put on what’s called “Department Directed Leave.”

It has infuriated many in the tight-knit community.

“Really despicable treatment to a wonderful teacher,” said Douglas Macklin, who is a parent at the school.

Hundreds stood outside Haiku Elementary School Monday afternoon holding signs in support of Monica Gouveia Nakahashi.

Nakahashi has been a teacher at Haiku Elementary School for four decades.

Nakahashi’s daughter said her mother was escorted off campus on Friday just days after filing a formal harassment complaint against the new principal who started over the summer.

“Seeing my mom come home day after day distraught by the humiliation, the disrespect from this administrator, breaking her down is horrible, but nonetheless, my mother returns every day because of the students,” Kimberly Naylor said.

A spokesperson for the DOE said they can’t comment on the active HR-related investigations.

Nakahashi’s supporters feel she is being retaliated against.

“I was in tears, my heart broke to hear what happened,” said former Haiku Elementary School teacher Lorie Yanuaria.

Yanuaria worked with Nakahashi for 10 years and said she was a mentor to her.

“I know how committed she is to Haiku Elementary School and to see her be dismissed that way ... my heart broke,” Yanuaria said. “There’s no doubt she was loved, greatly loved.”

Yanuaria said the line of supporters stretched passed the school and surrounded the campus. Former students, colleagues, even Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino came down to show support for the beloved kindergarten teacher.

“I love Mrs. Nakahashi just like mom,” said Haiku Elementary School second grader Mia Tavares. “I kind of want her to be my teacher again because she was so nice.”

The Parent Teacher Association sent a letter in support of Nakahashi to the DOE and requesting a public apology.

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