Kahului Elementary closure extended to Monday
  • Sunday, May 19, 2019
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Kahului Elementary closure extended to Monday

  • COURTESY ASA ELLISON

    Police suspect arson in a fire that caused $1.2 million in damage to Kahului Elementary School on Friday.

  • COURTESY ASA ELLISON

    Kahului Elementary School will remain closed until Monday after a suspicious fire Friday night caused more than $1 million in damage.

  • COURTESY ASA ELLISON

    Kahului Elementary School will remain closed until Monday after a suspicious fire Friday night.

The closure of Kahului Elementary School has been extended to Monday due to damage from a suspicious fire last week, the state Department of Education said.

Staff is to continue reporting as normal as the school works to ensure the campus is safe for students, the Education Department said on its Twitter account.

Previously, officials had planned to reopen the school on Thursday.

More than 960 students from preschool through fifth grade attend the central Maui school.

The fire, which broke out Friday night, damaged six classrooms and affected the school’s water lines, according to the Department of Education. Maui police suspect that the fire was deliberately set and estimated damage at $1.2 million.

Maui Police Lt. Gregg Okamoto said Monday that there were no updates on the case. He said police were in the school area Friday night before the fire after receiving a call about suspicious people walking around the campus. Officers left after no one was found.

No injuries were reported and no arrests have been made.

Kawehiwehi Nakamoto-Palmero, a fourth-grader whose portable classroom was damaged, said she was both sad and mad over the incident “because all my life work from August to November is gone.”

The 9-year-old said she was supposed to go on a field trip Monday but couldn’t because the school was closed for students.

“It’s a waste of money and takes away little kids’ dreams,” she said.

Her mother, Kristie Nakamoto, said her daughter cried as she saw images of the fire via Facebook.

“She was worried about her paperwork and her artwork. She was so worried about her teachers,” Nakamoto said.

Another parent, Stacy Woodson, said her children, who are in the first and fifth grades, also cried as they watched the videos of the school burning via social media Saturday.

“We had to reassure them it’s not the whole school,” she said.

Woodson, who also attended the school in her youth, said it was “heartbreaking” that people “in an indirect way would attack our youth.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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