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Search for youth facility escapees closes schools

    A hand-written sign notes that Maunawili Elementary School is closed Friday morning as police search for two escapees from the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.
    Hawaii Pacific University students trying to catch a shuttle to downtown were turned away from Hawaii Loa campus, which was closed Friday morning as police searched for two escapees from Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

Hawaii Pacific University’s Hawaii Loa campus, Maunawili Elementary School and Olomana School were closed Friday morning as police searched for two escapees from the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

Kailua High School was under a perimeter lockdown with heightened security at the school’s entrance, Department of Education spokeswoman Dara Young said.

Police said two 17-year-old boys escaped from the facility Thursday morning.

State Department of Human Services spokeswoman Kayla Rosenfeld said one of the escapees is facing a felony robbery charge.

Maunawili Elementary School and Olomana School went into lockdown Thursday at 11 a.m., shortly after the escape and remained in lockdown until the school day ended after 2 p.m.

The Department of Education decided to close the schools Friday morning because the escapees may still be in the area. They announced the closure on a phone and e-mail alert system and Twitter and the DOE website starting at 6:20 a.m.

“It’s precautionary,” said Alex Da Silva, a spokesman for the Department of Education. “It’s for the safety of the kids and the staff.”

Hawaii Pacific University closed classes on the windward campus until 11 a.m. The downtown campus remained open.

“Due to a situation involving Hawaii Law Enforcement surrounding the Hawaii-Loa Campus and Pali Highway area, all classes held at Hawaii Loa will be cancelled until 11am, April 4th. The Hawaii-Loa Campus will be in lockdown until 11am as well,” HPU said in a notice on its website.

The school said classes resumed at 11 a.m. and extra security was brought in to patrol the campus. Because the escapees have not been caught, HPU reminded students and faculty to be alert and check for updates.

Le Jardin Academy, at 917 Kalanianaole Hwy. off Kapaa Quarry Road, was open Friday morning after getting an all clear from police, said Headmaster Lou Young.

Young said school security personnel called him around midnight to say that police reported sightings of the two juvenile escapees in several areas, including the Kapaa Quarry Road.

“So they wanted to come on campus and do a thorough search, which they did, complete with dogs and helicopter and the whole business,” Young said. After searching the entire area, including the surrounding woods, police cleared the school to open Friday.

Young said the school hired extra security personnel Friday “just in case.”

There have been reports of other sightings, including Castle Junction, he said, so the school remained “cautiously alert.”

The Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility is located near the schools on Kalanianaole Highway in Kailua. It houses juveniles who have been convicted or are awaiting trial for serious crimes.

Maunawili has an enrollment of about 384 students in kindergarten to sixth grade and 60 staff and faculty.

Olomana School is an alternative school for juveniles at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility and other youth offenders and students who have difficulties in mainstream schools. It has an enrollment of about 91 students in intermediate and high school grade levels and 88 faculty and staff.


Star-Advertiser assistant webmaster Craig Gima, reporters June Watanabe and Gregg K. Kakesako and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

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