Holy Crap… Drama at the District 5 Forum

A forum was held at Pahoa High School and fireworks happened.  I’ll just let the two videos speak for themselves (video by Big Island Video News).

Candidate Hampton:

Candidate Edwards Hunt:

Tonight at the Akebono Theater – Willie K and YOZA

YOZA and WillieK

Pāhoa District Park Project Groundbreaking to Be Held July 31

A public groundbreaking ceremony for the Pāhoa District Park project will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 31, at the park.

Pahoa Park Rendering

Join Mayor Billy Kenoi, County Council members Greggor Ilagan and Zendo Kern, Parks Director Clayton Honma, and other dignitaries as they signify the start of the biggest recreational project in Hawai‘i County history. The $22.3 million, yearlong construction project will more than double the size of Pāhoa Park and deliver increased recreational opportunities to one of Hawai‘i Island’s fastest-growing communities.

Refreshments and light pupu will be served.

Contractor Nan, Inc. is scheduled to start clearing and grading the site on August 4. During the following 12 months, it will construct a covered play court building, two lighted baseball fields, two multipurpose fields, one of which will be lighted for nighttime use, a keiki playground, concession building, new comfort station, accessible walkways, and ample parking areas.

Totaling more than 29 acres, the improvements will complement the park’s existing 15 acres of developed recreational facilities that include a 50-meter swimming pool, community center, senior center, and skate park.

For more information, please contact Jason Armstrong, Public Information Officer, at 961-8311 or jarmstrong@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Big Island Police Charge Puna Man With 13 Offenses in Connection to Kidnapping

Hawaiʻi Island police have charged a 38-year-old Puna man with 13 offenses in connection with a kidnapping that led to a police pursuit and an attempt to run down two officers.

Riley Asuncion

Riley Asuncion

At 10:50 a.m. Wednesday (July 23), Riley Asuncion of Pāhoa was charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of third-degree assault, and one count each of kidnapping, terroristic threatening, unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle, fourth-degree theft, driving without a license, reckless driving and resisting an order to stop. His bail was set at $1,521,000. He remains in the Hilo police cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Thursday (July 24).

Investigation by the Area I Criminal Investigations Section determined that Asuncion illegally entered the sports-utility vehicle of a 30-year-old female acquaintance Monday morning without her knowledge. As the woman was driving on Kīlauea Avenue in Downtown Hilo, he surprised her from the back seat, assaulted her and gained control of the SUV. The woman was able to escape from the vehicle on Kinoʻole Avenue near Haihi Street.

Police responding to an 11:26 a.m. report of an apparent domestic incident in a pink SUV located the vehicle in the Panaʻewa area. The driver swerved in an attempt to ram a police vehicle and then fled to Stainback Highway, turned around on a side road and drove toward two officers, who had exited their police vehicles. In response, three shots were fired toward the SUV, which then continued down Stainback Highway. It stopped a short distance later and the suspect fled into the bushes.

Asuncion surrendered and was taken to Hilo Medical Center for treatment. Detectives determined that he was struck by one of the rounds, which caused a superficial wound to his torso. Asuncion was released from the hospital early Monday evening and taken to the Hilo police cellblock shortly before 7 p.m. while detectives continued the investigation.

As is standard practice in any police involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation. The two officers involved are on desk duty during the investigation. One is a six-year veteran police officer and the other has been an officer for approximately a year.

Pahoa Man Arrested for Attempted Murder and Other Offenses

A 32-year-old Puna man has been arrested on a Grand Jury indictment for attempted murder and other offenses.

Gilbert H. Waiau

Gilbert H. Waiau

Gilbert H. Waiau of Pāhoa was arrested Monday morning (July 21) on the strength of a bench warrant following a Grand Jury indictment charging him with attempted second-degree murder, attempted first-degree assault, attempted second-degree assault, first-degree terroristic threatening and second-degree criminal property damage. His bail was set at $85,000. He was held at the Hilo police cellblock pending a court appearance Tuesday.

The charges stem from an incident on April 30, 2013. Puna Patrol officers responded to a report of a possible domestic dispute on the roadway. Officers responded to Kahakai Boulevard at Puni Mauka Loop, where a 23-year-old woman reported that Waiau had followed her in his car and tried to run her off the road, then intentionally hit her car with his. When she got out of her car, he reportedly attempted to ram her with his car.

The case was routed to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney and then presented to a Grand Jury.

Big Island Police Arrest Pahoa Man for Trying to Run Down Two Officers

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested 38-year-old Riley Asuncion of Pāhoa on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of attempted second-degree murder for attempting to run down two officers on Monday.

Riley Asuncion

Riley Asuncion

Asuncion was taken to the Hilo police cellblock shortly before 7 p.m. Monday (July 21) after being released from Hilo Medical Center, where he was treated for a bruise to his torso sustained when the officers fired at him when he tried to run them down while they were on foot.

Asuncion was also arrested on suspicion of unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and assault for an incident that started in downtown Hilo. In that case, passersby reported what they thought was a domestic dispute in a vehicle traveling from Hilo to the Panaʻewa area. The 30-year-old female victim, who was an acquaintance of Asuncion’s, managed to escape from the SUV before police located and began to pursue it. Police later located her in Hilo.

The pursuit began shortly before 11:30 a.m. Monday, when South Hilo Patrol officers responded to the reports of a domestic incident in a pink sports-utility vehicle.

The officers located the SUV. When they attempted to contact the operator, it fled. Officers followed it to Stainback Highway, where it turned around on a side road and drove recklessly toward two officers, who had exited their police vehicles. In response, three shots were fired toward the SUV, which continued down Stainback Highway. It then stopped a short distance later and the suspect fled into the bushes.

Police determined that no one else was in the SUV at that time.

They located Asuncion a short time later, arrested him and took him to Hilo Medical Center.

Asuncion remains at the cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continue the investigation.

As is standard practice in any police involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigations Section is conducting a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards is conducting an administrative investigation. The two officers involved are on desk duty during the investigation. One has been with the Hawaiʻi Police Department for six years and the other for approximately a year.

Pahoa Man Steals Milk – Leads to Other More Serious Offenses

Hawaiʻi Island police have arrested a 25-year-old Puna man in connection with a burglary and two auto thefts in Puna.

At 2:10 p.m. Monday (July 14), police responded to a report of a burglary in the Ainaloa subdivision. A 51-year-old woman was home when an unknown man reportedly entered her Hilonani Street home and removed a gallon of milk. Responding officers found the suspect nearby in the bushes.

Lake Charles K. Lively

Lake Charles K. Lively

Lake Charles K. Lively of Pāhoa was arrested and found to be in possession of hydrocodone and marijuana. He was held at the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

On Tuesday, Lively was charged with burglary, theft, promoting a harmful drug and promoting a detrimental drug. He was also charged with unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle in an unrelated case. In that case, an Acura Integra was reported as stolen from a property in Kurtistown sometime between June 25 and June 26.

Bail for the above offenses was set at $38,000.

After Lively reported to court for those offenses on Wednesday, he was arrested and charged with another count of unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle. In that case, a Honda Civic was stolen from the parking lot of a business in Kurtistown and found behind a vacant house in Kurtistown. Bail for that offense was set at $10,000. Lively was taken to Hawaiʻi Community Correctional Center pending his initial court appearance on that offense.

Senator Ruderman Hosts Meeting With Governor Abercrombie in Pahoa

Senator Russell Ruderman hosted a meeting with Governor Neil Abercrombie including about twenty-five Puna community leaders. This was the first time in several years that the Governor has visited Puna to specifically listen and address concerns of the district. The meeting was held at Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences school in Kea’au on Saturday, July 12th.

Ruderman Abercrombie

It was a productive meeting, with both the Governor’s staff and Puna leaders expressing great appreciation for the opportunity to meet directly with one another to address community concerns.

Governor Abercrombie intently listened as the issues of the Puna District, such as substandard subdivisions and the problems they are facing including roads and other necessary infrastructure; emergency access; geothermal; need for social & medical services; unsafe highways; safe access to medical marijuana; charter schools; and a variety of other concerns were presented by those in attendance. The governor acknowledged their concerns, asked questions, and agreed that Puna is in need of long-denied attention and resources.

One theme emerged repeatedly, as Senator Ruderman explained, “Puna is the state’s fastest-growing district, and includes some of the state’s poorest population areas, yet it has received less funding than other districts for several decades.”

Ruderman at Haas

One example of the problems this has caused is that Lower Puna has only one road for access and emergencies (Highway 130) and this overburdened highway is the most dangerous road in the state. As Community leader Jon Olson said “We’re dying out here, literally, on the unsafe state highway.”

The Governor stated, “This is the 21st Century, and we need to look at things anew.” The old assumptions about our subdivisions, roads, and what Puna residents deserve must be re-evaluated. The Governor agreed to focus more attention on our needs and will follow up with more communication.

Senator Ruderman coordinated this meeting to create a productive avenue of communication between the administration and the Puna community, which has been lacking in recent years. Senator Ruderman said “For this meeting, we put aside the most contentious issues and focused instead on all the other basic issues so desperately in need of attention in Puna. I am thankful for this renewed dialog between my community and the administration.”

Who Took Pahoa’s Trash Cans?

I noticed the other day that trash was beginning to pile up in Pahoa around different spots of town.

Pahoa Town

Pahoa Town

Today as I was driving around… I noticed that the public garbage cans that were around town had been removed.

I asked Pahoa Businesswoman and County Council Candidate Madie Greene what happened to them and she said that the contract for the people who were taking care of them had expired.

Greene said that the garbage cans should be back this week with a new contract in place but she wasn’t sure which company is contracted for the services as of yet.

Also if you haven’t heard, Business Services Hawaii has now set up a recycling redemption center right across from the Pahoa Post Office.

The Super Moon From the Big Island of Hawaii

Here is a picture of the “Super Moon” I took from my iPhone just now in Pahoa, Hawaii:
Supermoon in Pahoa

Big Island Police Searching for Missing Pahoa Man

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in locating a 49-year-old Pāhoa man who was reported missing.

Yuriy Shvydkova

Yuriy Shvydkova

Yuriy Shvydkova is described as 6-feet tall and 300 pounds, with medium-length partially gray hair, brown eyes and a fair complexion. He may be operating a 2005 White Nissan Sentra.

He was last seen in Nanawale early on the morning of Monday, June 9.

Police ask anyone with information on his whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

POLL – Hawaii County Council District 5

Who will you vote for the Hawaii County Council District 5 Race?

POLL – Hawaii County Council District 4

Hawaii County Council District 4 Poll:

Big Island Police Seeking Help Identifying Pahoa Theft Suspect

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man wanted for theft in Pāhoa.

Have you seen this guy?

Have you seen this guy?

The incident took place in a market, where the 56-year-old victim briefly put his wallet down and an unknown man grabbed it.

The man is described as Caucasian, possibly in his upper 50s, with a medium build.

Police ask anyone with information on his identity or whereabouts to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

Puna Students Participate in Medeival Games on Oahu

Students from Mālamalama Waldorf School recently participated in the Medieval Games at Camp Erdman on the North Shore of Oahu. This is a hands on experience of sixth grade curriculum, which studies medieval history in depth.

Two members of Cheshire compete in pillow jousting, as the King pays heed to their style and technique

Two members of Cheshire compete in pillow jousting, as the King pays heed to their
style and technique.

Students dressed in tunics adorned with hand stitched family crests and were divided into shires (Cheshire, Berkshire, Hampshire and Yorkshire), each shire engaged in four events, archery, jousting (with pillow sacks), stilt walking and conquering a 30 foot vertical climbing wall. Waldorf schools from
throughout the state participate in this annual event, hosted by Honolulu Waldorf School.

Waldorf Education strives to provide experiential learning experiences for its students by utilizing the head, heart and hands while learning, creating real life experiences, allowing the student to live what they are learning.

Mālamalama Waldorf School is the only non-sectarian, non-denominational independent Waldorf School on the island of Hawai’i offering the internationally recognized Waldorf curriculum. If you would like your child to benefit from an amazing education please contact us at 808-982-7701 or visit us @ www.hawaiiwaldorf.org and enroll today!

Wordless Wednesday – Backseat Barn

As seen at Paul’s Gas Station in Pahoa a few minutes ago:

I asked the guy what his goats name was and he said something like Ganji!

I asked the guy what his goats name was and he said something like Ganji!

Pictures From the Pahoa Spirit Parade

Today was the first ever Pahoa Spirit Parade.  While the turn out wasn’t that great… the spirit was there.

Here are some pictures from today’s parade… Click to enlarge:

HAAS Principal Busted for International Drug Running in the ’70s

According to an April 16, 1972 article in the Pacific Stars & Stripes, “Thai Police Nab 2 on Drug Rap (Bottom Left)” Steve Hirakami, the current principal at Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences (HAAS), was a former international drug runner who got busted in Bangkok back in 1972.

Click to view paper.  Warning you can only click a few times w/out buying a subscription to the paper.

Click to view paper. Warning you can only click a few times w/out buying a subscription to the paper.

“Two Japanese-American men have been arrested on charges of possessing 62 pounds of hashish worth 2 million baht ($100,000.00) police disclosed Friday.

Gary Masashi Ohashi 25, and Steven Anthony Hirakami, 26, both from Honolulu were arrested Thursday morning while they were in their hotel rooms in downtown Bangkok.  Police found two suitcases full of hashish in each room.

According to police, Ohashi and Hirakami came to Bangkok on April 8 for  a tour.  They went up to Ubon Ratchathani, a north eastern province about 300 miles from where a U.S. air base is located to see an American Air Force man named Sgt. Jack Williams.  Williams hired them to deliver the two suitcases to an address in Honolulu.  Williams then left for Manila.

Williams paid them $100 each, police said.  The two young men claimed that they did not know what was in the suitcases.”

According to the Hawaii State Judiciary site.. Hirakami found himself in trouble and remanded for something in 1991 as well:
Hirakami Case

I have to wonder if this principal told the hiring board of the school of his past troubles?  Would you want your child attending a school that is supervised by a former international drug runner?

HAAS School Board Hides Executive Session Meeting – Cops Called to Protect Board – More Abuse Commentary

Last night there was supposed to be a resolution to an executive session that was going on with Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science (HAAS) school alleging teacher abuse made by a few parents of students that attended classes instructed by a teacher there named in the newspaper as Shannon Smith.

Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith

The meeting was originally scheduled for today at 5:00 at HAAS School in Pahoa.  When parents and community members arrived they were met with a sign that basically told them the meeting was an executive session and that it had been moved to an undisclosed location per HSTA.

HAAS Meeting 363

We then thought of places where this meeting might have been moved to and we drove to HAAS’s Virtual Campus located behind Black Rock Cafe and we saw cars that we recognized as board member cars and decided we would wait outside the meeting there to get the results that we were told we would have last night.

HAAS Parent David Marquis outside the Virtual Campus.  HSTA Rep Tanya Yamanaka on the left by the building.

HAAS Parent David Marquis outside the Virtual Campus. HSTA Rep Rae Yamanaka on the left by the building.

When we arrived HSTA Member Rae Yamanaka was waiting outside along with a few other HAAS teachers.   I talked with the HSTA member (Ms. Yamanaka if I remember correctly) she told me she wasn’t aware of why she was called to the meeting.

About 20 of us were outside and then a bunch of Hawaii County Police Officers showed up.

HAAS Meeting 374

I listened to what the Police officers were saying and one of them was talking to a supervisor and he said to his supervisor that nothing was going on just a bunch of folks standing outside waiting around.

One of the Police Officers asked me I if was “Damon Tucker”.  I told him yes I was.  He asked me what I was doing there… I told him that I wanted to hear the results of the executive session.  He asked me why I was so interested in it.  I told him I had a nephew that was allegedly abused by the teacher.  The officer then asked me who my nephew was… I told the officer it was none of his business who my nephew was and quit talking to him.

HAAS Meeting 376

Around 6:00 HSTA member Yamanaka drove by the group and informed us that the meeting was cancelled and she didn’t give us a reason.

The board members continued to stay inside the building and we were intent on waiting outside until we got answers from them.  When they did finally leave the building the following unfolded including one of the Board Members telling us that we were stalkers:

So now we are still left looking for answers.

HAAS parent David Marquis sent me the following commentary on what he feels is going on:

My name is Dave Marquis and my wife and I have a child in the Mana’olana program. We have known this teacher since the beginning of this school year, August 2013, and more than once or twice, we thought she was a great teacher. She is confident, energetic, knowledgeable, very firm on students. She was working on teaching the students “respect” all the time. We wish we could listen to her side of the story from her mouth, in person. I really wish we could. It would’ve been so easy to hate her not knowing her in person. We drop off and pick up our child every day at Mana’olana, and get to see other students playing after school while they wait for their parents to pick them up and to see this teacher every day also.

For those who consider HAAS as a great school with many wonderful teachers, it must be hard to believe this numerous amount of abuse incidents as well as the principal Mr. Steve Hirakami and the Ohana director Ms. Debra Derbyshire covering up this whole thing. They did nothing about it this past 3+ months (since the end of January) and not only that, they wanted to pretend like nothing happened. We wanted to believe that this was a good school. However, they handled this matter very poorly. They didn’t do what they were supposed to do and trying to even cover up these incidents. They did nothing for these children after the incidents were reported. They did one thing though; they were trying to suppress the facts and to protect their reputations.

The kids this age exaggerate, we know it as parents. However, if you have a good relationship with your child, you probably can tell if your child is telling the truth or not, making it up or not, exaggerating just a bit or a lot. We feel so guilty about not paying more attention to what my child has said about his teacher in the past. There were many signs of the abuse from the beginning. Whoever is in doubt should’ve seen when she was yelling at the kids. When she yells, she does so like an old sister yelling at their younger siblings, far from how teacher should handle children. She stabbed the student’s hearts with all these mean words if not physically. Do not get fooled by her previously perceived good reputation. We are sure some people only know her wonderful side. In fact, we were the ones. We believed that she was a great teacher because we thought my child was exaggerating. How can you believe what he said, “This boy got duct taped on today!” You would be thinking “You gotta be kidding me! A teacher should be smart enough not to do that nowadays.” Sadly we learned that she has another side as well. Believe it or not, we wanted to believe so bad that she was a decent teacher after we learned that she got in trouble. We did not know what kind of trouble”s” she was in, but we thought there was some misunderstanding or something. We had high hopes for her as my child’s teacher until recently, but sadly it is shuttered completely after all of these things that have happened to our son and his classmates.

There are always 2 sides to the story; however, we strongly believe the student’s side of the story this time. They are 4th graders, smart enough not to mess around with this kind of stuff. They do not make this up. They have scars from their teacher who should be caring and loving. They can imagine what the consequences Ms. Smith will face after everything comes out in public. That is why it took so long for them to speak up. They were not telling parents everything they have experienced. They must have been in fear. I heard some students having nightmares because of what their teacher had done and without the help of the two assistant teachers who knew all about it but didn’t do anything.

My son was very afraid of her, he still is, from the very beginning. My husband and I used to think she was like a fire cracker, in a good way. We thought the students in this class will have lots of fun! She did not seem like a typical gentle kind type of teacher. She sounded like a very energetic, confident, fun, outgoing teacher who is never boring to be around. We moved from mainland just 2-3 weeks before this school year started. Everything was new to us. My son was probably somewhat nervous as he is the new student of the class where most students knew each other already.

We can personally attest to the effects that have changed my son forever. His innocence has changed in ways that shouldn’t have been for his age. He has trust issues that were never there before Shannon Smith crashed into our lives like a wrecking ball. He has had a hard time trusting us as parents for fear that we would get his hands or feet chopped off, screamed at, hit with books or have his ears flicked and it has taken quite a while to open up about what transgressed at the H.A.A.S Manao’lana. My son has also been dealing with unexplained anger issues that cropped up after he started the 4th grade class under Shannon Smith. He would be so full of uncontrolled rage that we would have to practically restrain him at times to explain how this or that behavior was unacceptable. He becomes very scared at the slightest correction from his parents. Sometimes even terrified we would say. He started to say “What the heck!” and “I don’t know” as an answer for question. He was afraid of expressing what he was feeling because he was afraid of Ms. Shannon Smith in class. He has to say “I don’t know” first and see the reaction, then only after he knows that he was safe enough to say what he was thinking, he could say, I think ____ or ____. He had to say something Miss Shannon Smith wanted to hear or he could possibly meet with her anger.

Shannon Smith came to H.A.A.S highly praised for her work in a tough Los Angeles, CA school, but I guess warning bells should have been tripped. I heard all these things in a matter of 1-2 weeks after school started. We thought my son was exaggerating. We didn’t believe what he said 100%. We thought whoever got duct-tape on was not listening or misbehaving or something, and thought she would not put a full force in that kind of discipline. She says “What the heck!”all the time and “What the hell!” occasionally. She yells at students or says “Shut Up!”, this is like everyday thing. She was even yelling at some 1st students that are the next door.

It seems to us that she decided that the Mana’olana students in 4th grade were out of control and need some “inner city” type discipline because that is what they received, maybe even third world discipline from what our son is telling us. Shannon Smith also has two teaching assistants that saw a lot of what transpired but failed to stop the abuse or report it. The HAAS counselor, Uncle Matt, who is very close friends with Ms. Shannon Smith apparently witnessed and or knew about abuse and did nothing to stop it.

These two Teaching Assistants and the school Counselor are still working at H.A.A.S and one aide is even still in the classroom at Manao’lana, who were present but didn’t lift a hand to stop Shannon Smith nor did they report the abuse as required by law.

She was so annoyed too frequently by these students for just giggling and laughing or even just a noise of somebody making constantly, like pushing the mechanical pencil or making noise on the desk with fingers or making noise on the floor with the shoes, etc. Our son always said “You are going to get flicked the ear by Miss Smith if you keep it up!” when his younger sister was making noise in the car one day. He did say the same thing every time his younger sisters did make some constant noises.

Shannon Smith threatened our son and the other classmates to chop off their hands and feet if they couldn’t hold them still. Shannon also threatened to break the hands of children if they couldn’t keep them to themselves or hold still. A few months ago our son had two day break down when he had been acting out and we were upset at his behavior. He sobbed and cried for many, many hours in belief that we would be chopping off his feet because of what he had done. We didn’t know about his mental torment that he endured at the hands of Shannon Smith and her teaching assistants. At first we found it a bit funny, but he didn’t. He was terrified to his core! Shannon Smith had engrained it into my son that bad kids get their hands and feet chopped off and he thought that was going to happen to him. How evil! It was a rough and shaky couple of days to calm him down.

She would scream threats at children. My son has also told me that Shannon Smith would often tell him and the other classroom students that they were idiots or stupid. Shannon Smith also would scream and yell at the 1st grade kids that are right next door on a often basis. She also used rough language with the students and used curse words on the children. We have had an ongoing issue keeping our son from telling other kids to “shut up” and he has learned to say “What the hell” quite often from Ms. Smith.

We were told one day that the desk and chairs had been removed from the classroom when our son returned home from school, which was our second clue that there was something wrong in the Manao’Lana classroom. This was done apparently because of one student’s actions from what we understand. We wonder if this student has moved to the mainland to get away?

I received this email that same day that was posted on Shannon’s Shutterfly web site from another parent:

“Is it true that our children have had their desks and chairs taken away and made to sit on the floor these past few days?  If so, I am interested to hear the reason why.”

I posed an inquiry on Shannon Smith’s web forum about the removal of the desks, chairs, books and other classroom materials and why I was learning this from my son and not some form of official classroom change and this seemed to be weird to me. She exploded and sounded like she did the right thing and there was nothing for the parents to do other than trust her actions and skills. I was greeted with this response from Shannon Smith:

“Quite frankly, I did not have the time to call 17 families on Monday. It’s almost 4:00 PM, and I am nowhere near being able to leave here today as I prepare for tomorrow and next week.” I wonder how my child’s back felt like hunched over while trying to write? I know I wouldn’t be happy with this situation and I wanted to know more.

I responded to Shannon Smith with:

“I feel the same way and I need to know if my son is causing the trouble at school. I am not sure the removal of the desks is the right answer.”

This is the reply I received from her:

…. “appreciate your concerns as parents, but please trust my judgements and actions as a teacher. I do, in fact, have a master’s degree in Education, and am well versed in both working in a childs’ Zone of Proximal Development, and developmentally appropriate learning activities. I am happy to discuss these more in-depth with you, and even provide literature if you would like. Heck, read my thesis if you want. Moreover, if you have a concern, feel free to contact me personally via email and not on this message board.”

It was big news that Ms. Shannon Smith was removed from the class room and came as a surprise. It was the end of January when we learned from my son that Ms. Shannon Smith didn’t come to school and was not coming back for a while because of the “police” investigation.

Our conversation in the car on our way back home was something like
- How was your day?

- Fine.

- How was Miss Smith?

– Oh she wasn’t there. She is not going to be at school for a while.

- Why? What’s going on? (We had no clue!)

- I don’t know………… She got in trouble.
- Why?

-Because (boy’s name) got duck taped on. I told you a long time ago.
-Yes I remember you said that. You weren’t joking??

-No I wasn’t.

-Did they do anything to you guys?

-I got interviewed today.

-By who?

-Uncle Matt. (school counselor)

- What did he ask?

- I am not supposed to tell you. I was told not to say anything to anybody.
- WHAT! You can always tell us anything. They just didn’t want you to tell anybody you know. But you can always tell us about everything, the stuff that is happening at school.

After that day, we were forced to remain silent until the parent meeting in April. We hadn’t been told a word about what happened at the school, or what happen to the students. Shockingly, only about 10 parents (the parents of 9 kids at Mana’olana) came to the meeting to find out what the meeting was all about. The first hour of the meeting was about how incredible this new teacher was. Mr. Steve Hirakami kept saying “We need to Imua.” (meaning to move forward) Then one parent started speaking out. We cannot move on unless something has to be done about this particular incident. Then we started learning other things as well. The school counselor lost one paper that the parents reported to him, it was the list of things Ms.Smith did to them and the other students and of things they saw in the class.

I guess this is where we should have really kept an eye on the actions and judgments the teachers at Manao’lana. I feel that Shannon Smith was way out of line and there is no excuse for these torments my son and other classmates endured.

Three months after Shannon Smith was removed from the classroom Ms. Smith shows up at the May 2nd H.A.A.S. Hoolaulea hugging, sitting and chatting with Ms. Derbyshire as if she didn’t have a care in the world. How callous of Mr. Hirakami and Ms. Derbyshire, who knew that there was a temporary restraining order against Ms. Shannon Smith, to let her show up and re-intimidate the students of Manao’lana. Have they no common sense as educators and so called “protectors” of our children?

Where was the Administration in all of this?

Why has it taken 100+ days to get a smidgen of information?

Did they not monitor Shannon Smith, a first year teacher at Manao’lana?

Did Mr. Hirakami or Ms. Derbyshire call the police to stop the classroom abuse or to perform an investigation?

Did Mr. Hirakami or Ms. Derbyshire report these incidents to the Hawaii Department of Education?

Why are the teacher’s aides still teaching at H.A.A.S let alone still present in the classroom?

In my opinion this has been a cover up from the beginning. Not only does Shannon Smith need to be formally fired and her record reflection these events, the teacher’s aides and the school counselor are also complicit in the abuse and failed our children as well and they too need to me formally fired and their employment records marked with these events. Mr. Steve Hirakami and Ms. Deb Derbyshire need to resign and apologize to my son, my family and the other children in the 4th Grade Manao’lana class as they have fail them and the H.A.A.S Public charter school as a whole.

We believe Ms. Shannon Smith, Mr. Steve Hirakami and Ms. Derbyshire should never be allowed into positions of power again as they have shown a lack of human decency and moral fiber. They have truly failed our children and community.

 

Pahoa Spirit Parade is This Saturday

The Pahoa Booster Club  is pleased to showcase all Pahoa schools including Pahoa High and Intermediate, Kua O Ka La and HAAS, all wearing their school colors.  Please join us in celebrating the students, athletics and clubs.  The Pahoa Spirit Parade will begin at 9:30 with Village Road being closed from 9:00 a.m. thru 10:30.

The Hawaii County Band at the 2013 Holiday Parade

The Hawaii County Band at the 2013 Holiday Parade

The parade will be led by Governor Abercrombie and featuring the Hawai’i County Band  and most all students from Pahoa, Kua O Ka La and HAAS.  This year’s Grand Marshall is Diane Hultman, a lifelong volunteer in Pahoa and Puna.  The Parade will wind thru the historic Pahoa Village ending up at Sacred Heart Church where a Steak BBQ fundraiser will be hosted by the Pahoa Booster Club and Lion’s Club in support of all schools in 96778.

There will be a 5 k run beginning at First Hawaiian Bank at 7:30 a.m.   All proceeds from the 5k run will go to the Pahoa High Cross Country Team.  Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to be at First Hawaiian Bank in Pahoa no later than 7 a.m.  Grand Prize for the 5k run is a GoPro3 Camera, valued at over $450.

Pahoa Community Center SignParking will be available at the Community Center.  If you wish to be in the parade, line-up begins at 9:00 a.m., at Apa’a (Rubbish dump) Road and Village Road.  All proceeds will benefit the Pahoa Schools athletic programs. We hope to see you there!!!