A 36-year-old Kauai man, who was sentenced to probation for having his son walk a mile after being punished at an afterschool program, said he just wanted his 8-year-old son to be accountable for his actions.
“I had no intent to harm my son,” said Robert De Mond, a Kilauea landscaper, who also makes and sells jewelry with his wife and family.
“I wasn’t angry at all,” he said. “The way I raise my kids is I want them to be accountable for their actions. …This got blown out of proportion.”
When De Mond arrived with his 3-year-old son at Kilauea Elementary School to pick up his two older boys, ages 6 and 8, from an A-Plus Program one day in late August or early September, he noticed his eldest had been placed in time-out.
“I asked him, ‘Why were you in time-out at A-Plus?'” De Mond said. “He told me, ‘I don’t know.’ I asked him again and he said, ‘I don’t know.'”
He told his son: “I don’t know is not an answer. You need to take responsibility for your actions. There has to be a reason that you were placed in time-out.”
A mile from their house, he dropped his son off and asked him to “please walk home. When you walk home, you will have an answer better than ‘I don’t know.’ And when you do come home you’ll have an answer,” he said.
De Mond said the stretch of the two-lane roadway — Kuhio Highway — is in a safe, rural area with acre-size agricultural lots, and a wide shoulder, 10 to 25 feet wide, where it’s not uncommon to see people walking or riding their bikes.
When De Mond got home, he said he turned around and within five minutes was back at the location where he dropped him off.
“I was hollering his name, and he’s nowhere to be found,” he said.
De Mond called his wife at work.
“I went back and forth three times along the road,” he said. “At this point, I’m pretty frantic.”
He called police dispatch, and learned police had his son at the school.
De Mond and his wife arrived at the school, not knowing how or why his son got there.
“I wanted to see my son to see if everything’s OK and talk to my son,” he said.
Instead, his wife signaled to him that he was going to be arrested.
He learned that his neighbor found the boy, but rather than bring him home, took him to school and called police.
“It’s been pretty hard on the kids,” De Mond said. “I just wanted to get it over with, so I pleaded no contest” to second-degree child endangerment.
He was sentenced to probation, a $200 fine and parenting classes.
De Mond said his final court hearing on the matter was Wednesday, but he is continuing to take parenting classes.
He said it has also been difficult for his wife and him, especially since he coaches kids’ soccer and football sports.
“I’m a pretty big figure in the community for multiple sports,” he said. “For me getting through this and past it was my concern. I’ts made me a stronger person, and made me think about being a parent a lot more.
“It also puts me in a spot,” De Mond said. “I’m happy to be accountable for my actions if I’m going to preach and tell that to my kids.”