Public charter school on UH campus ‘caught off guard’ about possibly being displaced

The principle here at the University Lab School says their relationship with the University of Hawaii dates back all the way to the 1930s
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 11:06 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2023 at 6:01 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A K-12 charter school on the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s campus is mobilizing the community for a fight over their future.

The principal at the University Lab School said their relationship with the University of Hawaii dates back all the way to the 1930s.

Still, a recent comment by UH President David Lassner is alarming some parents and teachers who are wondering if that relationship will continue.

In a senate meeting on Jan. 12, President Lassner told state senators, “I think you know the lab school has no affiliation with UH other than it being physically on the campus.”

The comment was made as UH officials discussed potential plans to redevelop university land between Metcalf and Dole along University Avenue, where the charter school sits.

“The vision is to redevelop that entire block, including the future use of the laboratory school,” said Kalbert Young with the University of Hawaii.

When Senator Donovan Dela Cruz asked where the school would go, Young responded: “That would be their call. We would work with them to give them ample notice.”

Those comments led the lab school’s principal, Keoni Jeremiah, to send out a letter to parents urging them to voice their concerns to the neighborhood board. He said Lassner’s words about affiliation were upsetting because the University’s College of Education still partners with the school.

A statement from UH on the situation reads:

The University of Hawaii owns the land and buildings that the University Laboratory School, a charter school, uses. At this time, the University of Hawaii does not have specific or actionable plans to redevelop the property that would necessitate the relocation of the charter school. Any potential redevelopment of the property is years away and the lab school would be provided ample notice. This is a non-event as there was no announcement, as has been claimed. The lab school has not had exclusive research with UH for more than a decade now. All current UH educational research is being conducted at a variety of charter schools and public schools across the state.

Jeremiah said he has a meeting scheduled with UH officials next week to discuss the school’s future. As to why he didn’t contact the university before sending out the letter, he said the words from officials on Jan. 12 spoke for themselves.

At another senate meeting on Jan. 31, Kalbert Young with the University of Hawaii told senators, “Right now we don’t have any plans. We don’t have any action level plans. That’s why I say this is a non event. They were not notified because there is nothing to notify them about.”

Young said any potential development of that site would be years away.