In ongoing dispute, state seeks more proof lead at Hawaii preschool has been dealt with
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Big Island preschool that was shut down partly over lead concerns will remain closed at least one more week after the state said it needs more proof the issues have been addressed.
Both the state and the head of Kalamapii Play School returned to court Monday morning.
Gary Zamber, the school’s attorney, asked Judge Peter Kubota for another week so it could provide the state Department of Human Services with information it needs to approve Kalamapii Play School’s childcare license.
“We have provided a lot of information. But there’s additional information that we need to present to the state,” Zamber said. “We are making progress.”
It’s a request that Kubota granted.
The extension comes nearly two weeks after Kubota ordered the preschool to shut down based on arguments from the state that Kalamapii’s teachers aren’t qualified and children are being exposed to lead.
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They are accusations school Executive Director Kim Pierce disputes.
Once the judge heard the school’s side of the story last week, he ordered the state to work with the unlicensed preschool to try and get the facility back open as quickly as possible.
Today, Kubota urged both sides to continue to work together.
“Ms. Pierce you understand what you have to do under the law,” Kubota asked. She replied that she did.
“And the state, Ms. Youmans, ou and the department are still willing to work on this case together in compliance so she can move towards opening?” Kubota continued.
Deputy Attorney General Lynne Youmans responded, “Yes, your honor.”
After court, Pierce told HNN that, “Everybody wants the school to be safe. We believe that it is, and certainly the Department of Health having the check off on that is essential before kids come back on campus.”
She said the school is also working with the state on a staffing plan, but added finding teachers who are available that also meet state standards has been nearly impossible.
And she’s been looking for the past year.
“I am hopeful that the court and both parties will recognize the reality of the difficult situation that has been created here in our community. And will adjust accordingly to provide a service,” she said.
The state Department of Human Services provided this statement:
“Lead exposure within our community has been at the forefront in recent news impacting both keiki and adults.
This issue has always been important to DHS and we consistently work with DOH and take an active role in ensuring that keiki in child care are not exposed to lead or any other hazardous conditions.
We appreciate the Court’s continued recognition that Hawai’i law makes it unlawful for someone to operate without a license. We continue to work with Kalamapi’i Play School as they work to provide the information necessary to resolve the serious issues.”
Both sides are scheduled to be back in court next Monday.
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