State, lawmakers discuss active shooter response protocols for public schools

Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of all campuses across the state have not been trained for active shooter scenarios.
Published: Jan. 10, 2023 at 9:33 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2023 at 10:25 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Are Hawaii’s public schools prepared to deal with gun violence?

More than two-thirds of all campuses have not been trained for active shooter scenarios.

According to Education Week, there were 51 school shootings across the country in 2022.

The most recent includes a 6-year-old who allegedly shot his teacher in Virginia.

Hawaii’s schools superintendent told state lawmakers Tuesday that 152 threats were made to public campuses across the state in 2022.

“All threats are taken seriously,” said Hawaii’s Department of Education Superintendent, Keith Hayashi before the House Committee on Education.

The most recent threat in Hawaii was on Monday.

Kapolei High parents received a letter saying a student had a replica gun in the parking lot.

Last August, a 16-year-old boy was arrested at Keaau High School after allegedly threatening gun violence.

In March 2022, a 17-year-old Kamehameha Schools Keaau student was arrested after he brought a “starter” gun to campus.

Officials said many threats originate online.

“In our emergency operations plan, we treat social media threats as an active threat,” said HIDOE’s Safety Security and Emergency Preparedness Branch Director, Max Mendoza.

“And when social media threat is detected, there are protocols in place to make the required notifications,” Mendoza added.

Public schools are used to going on lockdown usually for threats, or a nearby police chase.

While there has never been an active shooter in Hawaii, last year’s massacre in Uvalde, Texas followed by the slow police response motivated Hawaii law enforcement agencies to work more closely together on their joint response.

And the state DOE is under pressure to be ready for the worst.

Meanwhile, Hayashi said only 80 out of Hawaii’s 258 public campuses have gone through active shooter training and about 1,000 employees have been trained in student risk assessment.

The state aims to increase those numbers.

“We’re moving forward to ensure that all of our schools have that training in place,” said Hayashi. “And we all have plans, which is very important.”

“You know, so our schools regularly drill and follow through with whatever recommendations that are needed.”

To report an incident including bullying or threats, you can do so online or download the app Speak Now.