On July 11, 2013 Hawaii Academy of Arts & Sciences Charter School principal Steve Hirakami posted a letter to parents and students informing them that their students would not be able to use the Pahoa High and Intermediate PM buses anymore. Pahoa High and Intermediate had been sharing bus space with HAAS students since there was extra seats available on the buses.
Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science (HAAS) Charter School Principal Steve Hirakami received an email just last Friday August 2nd that stated the following:
“Hi Steve, my official word is that we will not be providing transportation for all public charters schools students who are attending by choice. If a student is programmatically placed at a public charter school then we will provide transportation.”
This has left nearly 60 students at HAAS without a way to school beginning tomorrow morning.
This afternoon Hirakami held a community meeting to inform parents what was going on and what options the school is looking at in the wake of this last minute decision that hasn’t even been finalized by the Board of Education yet.
HAAS is a unique school and many of the students have special needs where they need to have curb-to-curb transportation. The real problem seems to lie with the fact that the school was given such short notice and it really took a lot of folks and still is taking folks by surprise.
Councilman Greggor Illagan suggested a meeting between administrators, county officials and state officials to see what could be done.
Senator Hanohano said she was leaving for Honolulu tomorrow morning and would find out what went wrong with things. There was obviously some breakdown in communication between school administrators and State DOE officials and hopefully things will get worked out in the long run.
State Board of Education member Brian DeLima told Hirakami “that this never went before the Board of Education..” and Hirakami asked him how the policy can change without the Board even knowing about it and DeLima said he will find out more about it.
HAAS Parent and “CAN Network” representative Tyann Flower stated she has been a parent of HAAS students for 6 years and it’s been a long journey and “…for me transportation isn’t really the issue its the blatant disregard of the need that we are providing here that our school is providing to our families and students by just taking something away it affects all of us…”
Some folks talked about a class action lawsuit and Hirakami reminded folks that Charter Schools are not allowed to sue the School Districts although he did state that folks can do what they want to and that he himself went to Washington D.C. a few years ago and was able to meet with Ed Case and get more funds for Charter Schools.
As the meeting came to a conclusion still many folks from the audience had questions and concerns while students talked about some of their experiences on the bus including one student stating that he got off the bus and two students from a public school started to throw rocks at him.
There was no definitive answer but some folks thought about things such as using the white state vans as buses however it was explained that for transporting kids to and from school the buses and vans had to be painted that standard yellow school bus colors and equipped with all the lights, blinkers and safety things of a bus.
In the meantime, folks will be carpooling and doing what they can to get their kids to school. Unfortunately, this decision may lead to many students having to hitchhike to school as some of the HAAS students are already doing.
- Press Conference Tomorrow on the HAAS School Bus Issue (damontucker.com)
Filed under: Announcements, Big Island, Community, Education, Hawaii, Kids, Legal, Pahoa, Politics, Puna, Rumors, Security, State Affairs, Transportation Tagged: | Charter Schools in Hawaii, Hawaii Academy of Arts & Sciences, No Child Left Behind, School Bus Funding, School Buses in Hawaii