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Kealakehe High opens for class with increased security

By Gregg K. Kakesako

LAST UPDATED: 2:15 p.m. HST, Dec 10, 2012

Classes resumed this morning at Kealakehe High School without any incidents following a series of events last week, which Department of Education officials say stem from a misunderstanding between local, Micronesian and Marshallese groups of students over differing cultures and lifestyles.

Wilfred Murakami, school principal, said that there were members of Hawaii Police Department on campus to augment Department of Education personnel.

Murakami reported there were no incidents through the lunch periods period today.


Souza said classes will be staggered and the lunch period will be shortened to provide fewer opportunities for the 1,500 students to be together for a prolonged period.

“The idea is to schedule more kids to be in class and less time for them to be together collectively.”

School officials cancelled on-campus activities and classes on Friday because of increased disruptions caused by at least three student fights over two days. 

To prevent the disorderly conduct from escalating, the school was temporarily on lockdown Wednesday afternoon and students were sent home 45 minutes early on Thursday in increments. 

The Hawaii Police Department arrested eight student arrests on Thursday. Those students were released from police custody but face disciplinary actions that for some may include suspension. An investigation into their disorderly conduct is ongoing. 

“This misunderstanding of cultural assimilation by Marshallese and Micronesian families is not isolated to Kealakehe High School,” Souza said on Friday. “This is a community issue that we are addressing.” 

Souza noted that he has been in discussions with lawmakers and local agencies about cultural assimilation and the misunderstandings that exist in the Kona community.

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