Staffing woes to blame for school’s withdrawal from mainland robotics team competition

Parents are frustrated after an Oahu middle school unexpectedly pulled their robotics team out of an international competition.
Published: Apr. 3, 2022 at 5:45 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 4, 2022 at 9:35 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Staffing shortages — and not funding— are behind a decision to keep an Oahu middle school robotics team out of an international competition, officials told HNN.

Parents of the Highlands Intermediate students expressed their frustration Sunday, saying they were told there wasn’t enough money for the trip to Maryland in June.

School Principal Amy Martinson said she was forced to give up the team’s spot because there’s no one to chaperone them.

“The students are not going to the competition at the University of Maryland because there is no coach and there is no administrator to take those kids and prepare those kids for the competition,” Martinson said. “And that was told to the students early on.”

Martinson said the robotics team’s coach isn’t available because she is going to a graduation on the mainland.

Scott Yamasaki’s daughter is a member of Highlands Intermediate’s robotics team.

Her team placed first at last week’s Oahu Sea Perch Regional Competition and were invited to compete on an international level in Maryland this June.

They were excited to take their skills to the next level when their dreams were suddenly cut short.

Yamasaki said their daughter and her teammates were told they will no longer be competing due to insufficient funds. But a formal notice was never given to parents.

“I was kind of furious that my daughter had the chance and all of a sudden it was taken away from her,” Yamasaki said.

His wife called the principal and was told funding is going toward another mainland competition for a different program at the school.

“She had a shot at this competition,” said Yamasaki. “We didn’t have a chance to raise the money or even have a chance to send our daughter.”

Martinson said she has students headed to the Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) competition this summer.

“I have dedicated most of my monies to the HOSA competition held in Nashville, Tennessee, for 37 students,” said Martinson.

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