Seven students were charged in connection with a large fight that broke out at Pahoa High and Intermediate School on Hawaii island Wednesday, according to the Hawaii County Police Department.
The fight occurred on campus at Pahoa Village Road at about 10:20 a.m.
A school resources officer contacted patrol officers after a large group of students started arguing which escalated into a physical altercation, police said noting those involved were high schoolers.
Acting communications director Nanea Kalani of the Hawaii Department of Education said the altercations were “spurred by racially insensitive remarks.”
As additional officers were en route to the school, the resources officer and school staff proceeded to break up the fight, resulting in one of the school’s security guards being assaulted by five male students, police said.
The campus immediately went into lockdown for an hour. Police arrested five male students —age 13, 14, two age 16 and an 18-year-old. Officers also arrested two juvenile female students ages 16 and 17. Police said the fight also resulted in the suspension of 20 students.
The 20-year-old security guard was taken to the Hilo Medical Center where he was treated and released for his injuries.
Police said four juvenile male students were charged with second-degree assault and sent to the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility on Oahu pending their initial hearing. The 18-year old student, Advin Nakashima, was also charged with second-degree assault and released after posting $2,000 bail, according to Puna Patrol Capt. Scott Amaral.
The two juvenile female students were charged with disorderly conduct and released to the custody of their parents.
Kalani said the education department cannot share additional details on the altercations because minors were involved.
“Parents are encouraged to speak with their child about making the right choices and the potential consequences of their actions. Assaults, fights and physical violence are taken very seriously and are investigated thoroughly. Class A student conduct offense penalties range from detention to dismissal with the possibility of arrest and serious criminal charges,” she said.
Under Hawaii law, a person who intentionally “causes bodily injury to an educational worker who is engaged in the performance of duty or who is within an educational facility” could face a second-degree assault charge. According to the statute, an educational worker includes any administrator, specialist, teacher, counselor or employee of the education department or an employee of a charter school; or volunteer or a person hired by the education department on a contractual basis.
The offense is considered a Class C felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison, if convicted.