EXCLUSIVE: State places Kaneohe preschool on 'probation'

EXCLUSIVE: State places Kaneohe preschool on 'probation'
Updated: Feb. 3, 2014 at 11:14 PM HST
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The Windward Nazarene Academy
The Windward Nazarene Academy

A state investigation has now concluded that staffers at Kaneohe preschool punished some of its students by taping them up.

The findings come more than a year after parents accused preschool staffers at the Windward Nazarene Academy of this bizarre, abusive behavior.

"The department ... did substantiate some of the concerns raised" by parents, said Barbara Yamashita, Deputy Director of the Department of Human Services.

The DHS -- which issues licenses to over 600 preschools and childcare facilities in the state -- has replaced the Windward Nazarene Academy's preschool permanent license with a six-month provisional permit and has barred two preschool staffers from ever working with children.

During the six-month period, investigators will make regular and unannounced site visits and will require the academy's director observe preschool classrooms on a monthly basis.

"I feel safer knowing that it's not going to happen again," said Kailua resident Dana Matsukawa, mother of one of children who were bound by tape.

"None of the four-year-olds ever have to get taped or see their friends taped."

Matsukawa said DHS investigators found that staffers taped her son Rustin twice to the carpet, the first time after he kicked a fellow student.

Other students allegedly had tape place over their mouths and one girl's braids were allegedly taped to her forehead.

Psychologist Marvin Acklin said the situation appears egregious.

"The concern would be that children, through this process of simple conditioning ... think of school as a place that's fearful or where they think of punishment," he said.

In a statement to parents today, the school said it's considering an appeal.

"Much of what is being asked by DHS has already been done and the rest will be followed in accordance with the report," said principal Kay Hishinuma.

The state said that if problems persist at the preschool, the probationary period could be extended or its license could be pulled altogether.

"Our concern is making sure for our children in childcare ... are in safe environments," said Yamashita.

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