Department of Education Lifting the Hold on Sex Ed Curriculum “Pono Choices”

The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is lifting the hold on one of its sexual education curriculum. A review of Pono Choices confirmed the curriculum is medically accurate, appropriate and aligned with health education, state law and DOE policy.

DOE ReleasePono Choices was put on hold last month pending a review of curriculum concerns brought to the DOE’s attention. Pono Choices is a teen pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) prevention program funded by the federal Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) and developed by the University of Hawaii at Manoa Center on Disability Studies (CDS).

“Our review not only affirmed that the curriculum meets department standards, but it also showed that Pono Choices is a culturally responsive curriculum that has resulted in positive outcomes for students,” stated Leila Hayashida, assistant superintendent for the Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support. “In this case that means more youth abstaining from sex and less teen pregnancy and STI transmission.”

Twelve DOE schools are slated to teach Pono Choices next semester. Some of these schools have been using the curriculum for the past four semesters, and other schools will be using the curriculum for the first time.

“All of the schools have teachers who have been trained to deliver the curriculum as it is intended to be delivered so that the learning that takes place is standard and consistent across schools,” noted Hayashida.

During the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years, 12 DOE schools chose to implement the Pono Choices curriculum as a part of sexual health education. Each school held parent informational sessions prior to use. Eight other DOE schools are scheduled to receive training this school year.

“We greatly appreciate the careful and thoughtful review process that took place,” said Pono Choices Principal Investigator Dr. Kelly Roberts. “We look forward to continuing our work with parents and teachers about educating our students on how to abstain from sex, how to refuse unwanted sexual pressures and how to prevent a pregnancy and a STI.”

Parents in schools implementing the curriculum are invited to a Pono Choices Parent Night through a letter that is sent home with their child. The letter provides the date, time and location of the parent night presentation and informs the parent or guardian that their child will be studying teen pregnancy and STI prevention as part of health education and that the school will be using the Pono Choices curriculum. The letter also provides information about the curriculum and explains that it teaches students how to correctly use a condom to prevent pregnancy and STIs. The entire DOE abstinence-based policy is also provided in the letter.

Taught in middle schools, sexual health education focuses on short-and long-term effects and consequences of sexual activity, such as an unintended pregnancy or STIs. All DOE approved sex education curricula are in compliance with the Board of Education’s abstinence-based sex education Policy 2110. For any curriculum or lesson that addresses reproductive health, parents have the option of requesting that their child not receive the instruction.


Tyson and Kyson – Father and Son Arrested and Charged After Being Stopped in Stolen Car

A Hilo man and his son have been arrested and charged with assorted offenses after being stopped in a stolen car.

On December 9, a home on Kupukupu Street in Hilo was broken into and several items were stolen, including keys to a sports-utility vehicle, which also was taken.

Kyson Dameron

Kyson Dameron

Wednesday afternoon (December 11), police officers stopped the stolen SUV on Highway 11. The driver, 37-year-old Tyson Prim, and his son, 18-year-old Kyson Dameron, both of Hilo, were arrested and taken to the Hilo police cellblock, while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation.

Tyson Prim

Tyson Prim

On Thursday, detectives released Dameron pending further investigation.

Immediately upon his release, South Hilo patrol officers arrested Dameron again on suspicion of fraudulent use of a credit card in an unrelated case. The card, along with jewelry and cash, had been taken during a burglary in the Waiākea area on December 2. The stolen card had been used at various Hilo businesses 15 times between the time of the burglary and Dameron’s arrest.

Friday morning, detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section charged Prim with unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle. His bail was set at $10,000. He made his initial court appearance Friday afternoon.

Later Friday, South Hilo Patrol officers charged Dameron with first-degree burglary, 16 counts of theft, eight counts of forgery, 15 counts of fraudulent use of a credit card and 15 counts of identity theft. He was also charged with two additional counts of first-degree burglary for break-ins in Waiākea on December 4 and December 10, during which a laptop, jewelry and cash were stolen.

Dameron’s bail was set at $106,750. He remains at the cellblock pending his initial court appearance scheduled for Monday.


Governor Releases $3.03 Million in Capital Improvement Grants to Local Nonprofits

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today announced the release of more than $3.03 million for various capital improvement grants to Hawaii-based nonprofit organizations whose missions benefit island communities.

From the Governor's Desk

“We recognize that nonprofit organizations are the state’s partners in providing services that are important to the people of Hawaii,” Gov. Abercrombie said. “Through this collaboration, we are better able to address issues that range from pediatric health care, foster care and elderly assistance; to support for the arts and preservation of Hawaii’s most treasured landmarks.”

Allotment of funds for the following projects were identified by members of the state Legislature and approved by the Governor:

$1,500,000 – Friends of Shriners Hospital, Oahu – Final construction of the capital improvement project for the Hale Ohana Family Center that will provide temporary housing needs for needy families residing outside the urban area of Honolulu accompanying their children for treatment at the hospital (The facility is part of the national network of children hospitals specializing in orthopedic and burn care. The Honolulu hospital is a 24-bed pediatric orthopedic hospital, providing care for children with bone, joint and neuromuscular conditions in Hawaii and throughout the Asia/Pacific region. It serves a geographic area larger than the continental United States with health care services to children from such locations as American Samoa, Chuuk, Fiji, Guam, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Saipan.)

$435,000 – Hale Opio Kauai, Inc., Kauai – Renovation and upgrading of Hale Opio’s three-story administration building, including renovating the broken air conditioning system, replacing the current windows with energy efficient ones, upgrading the lighting system, and installing a photovoltaic system on the roof to reduce energy costs (Hale Opio administers more than 20 residential and community-based programs, including therapeutic foster homes, emergency shelters, intake and assessment, Kauai Teen Court, violence prevention, First Job Academy, teen programs, and truancy prevention.)

$500,000 – Maui Economic Opportunity Transportation Center, Maui – Construction of a centralized facility to provide a one-stop service for bus washing and vacuuming (MEO provides county-subsidized on-demand transportation services to the elderly, low-income individuals, persons with disabilities, and medically needy residents, as well as to preschool children and disadvantaged youth in Maui County.)

$250,000 – Friends of Iolani Palace, Oahu – Restoration, repair and refinishing of interior and exterior walls, ceilings, flooring and windows at Iolani Palace, Iolani Barracks and the Kanaina Building; funds will also be used to address termite damage, complete electrical system improvements, and install security cameras and other security improvements (The nonprofit organization has been managing and maintaining Iolani Palace, which is the only royal palace in the United States; approximately 61,000 visitors tour the palace each year.)

$230,000 – Waikiki Community Center, Oahu – Repairs and improvements to three of the center’s buildings to enhance public safety, including replacing damaged exterior face boards, eaves, flashing and roof support beams; applying waterproof membranes and sealants onto new roofing materials to prevent leakage and reduce the interior heat by 10 degrees; installing and replacing damaged gutters and re-positioning misplaced drainage downspouts; and repairing small structural cracks and painting the exterior of the buildings (The nonprofit center serves as a “one-stop” center for health and human services, social support, counseling, lifelong education and wellness, and community building for Waikiki’s children, families and elderly as well as a gathering place for the community.)

$120,000 – Honolulu Academy of Arts, Oahu – Planning for a new Teacher Resource Art Center adjacent to the Art School for the Museum (Due to space constraints, the current art school cannot meet the demands of the local constituencies requesting art classes. As such, the “Our Museum, Our Community, Our Future” planning project will include plans for a new facility for studio art classrooms, teacher training, a community library/knowledge center, and additional art storage.)

Working Group Announces Recommendations to Strengthen Hawaii’s Juvenile Justice System

Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Senate President Donna Mercado Kim and House Speaker Joseph Souki today received a comprehensive package of policy recommendations from Hawaii’s Juvenile Justice Working Group. In August, these four state leaders charged the inter-branch, bipartisan working group with developing policy recommendations to maximize the effectiveness of Hawaii’s juvenile justice system, improve outcomes for youth and families, and ensure policies and practices are grounded in data and research.

Click to read report

Click to read report

The working group answered the charge with 24 recommendations that will reduce recidivism and rehabilitate more youth. These policies will focus juvenile justice system resources on protecting public safety and more effectively using bed space at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF); strengthen community supervision and probation practices across the Hawaii islands; increase resources and access to critical mental health and substance abuse; and sustain effective, proven practices.

Currently, HYCF costs taxpayers $199,000 per bed, per year, yet provides little return on this large investment. A recent study revealed that 75 percent of youth exiting HYCF are re-adjudicated or reconvicted within three years of release. Research indicates that, for many youth, residential placement generally fails to produce better outcomes, and can even increase the risk of recidivism when compared with lower-cost, community-based alternatives such as probation, outpatient mental health or substance abuse treatment, and evidence-based programming.

“By reviewing the data, we now have a clear picture of what is driving costs and recidivism within our juvenile system,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said. “The working group took a hard look at what is and isn’t working, and then developed concrete policy recommendations that will equip our communities to achieve far better outcomes for youth and their families.”

After studying Hawaii data and meeting extensively with stakeholders, the working group found that, while Hawaii has reduced commitments to HYCF by 41 percent in the last decade, there are still many youth who could be more effectively supervised and rehabilitated with the right alternatives in their own communities. For example, many youth were placed in HYCF for a misdemeanor or nonviolent offense. Additionally, the youth being sent to HYCF are staying longer than at any point since 2004: the average length of time has increased 188 percent since 2004.

Importantly, the working group believes that critical services to reduce delinquency in youth, including mental health and substance abuse treatments, are not sufficiently available and resources must be prioritized to building up those services. The working group also found that probation practices varied dramatically by circuit and surveys of probation officers revealed deep concerns about the availability of and access to treatment and community services for youth on probation.

“Hawaii has long sought a more effective juvenile justice system, in which our judges have the tools and sentencing options necessary to reduce recidivism and improve a young person’s chances of success,” Chief Justice Recktenwald said. “The working group’s recommendations provide our state with a roadmap towards a juvenile justice system that more effectively helps youth and their families, while also protecting public safety.”

Under the recommendations, youth convicted of a misdemeanor offense would not be eligible for commitment to HYCF, allowing them to remain on their home island with their families and participate in less costly, more effective community-based alternatives. This approach would permit the state to focus HYCF on youth who require the most serious interventions and to reinvest the savings into community resources across the state.

“These recommendations call for more tools throughout the juvenile justice system that are primarily focused on putting youth back on track to living healthy and safe lives,” said Senate President Donna Mercado Kim. “And strengthening juvenile justice within our communities is the right step for our islands and our youth.”

The complete list of policy recommendations includes:

focusing HYCF bed space on more serious juvenile offenders;
clarifying and strengthening juvenile parole and reentry practices;
clearly defining diversion options for lower-level youth;
maximizing probation effectiveness in every circuit;
equipping probation officers with tools to manage youth behavior;
increasing collaboration with partner agencies; and
sustaining effective practices.

“Hawaii has the opportunity to use this inter-branch, bi-partisan process to take huge steps forward with our juvenile justice system,” House Speaker Joseph Souki said. “Moving forward, Hawaii will use secure beds in the most effective way to reduce recidivism, while providing more safe alternatives to incarceration that can keep juveniles with their families and increase their chances of success.”

Taken together, the policy recommendations are projected to accelerate current trends, reducing the HYCF average daily population by 60 percent by 2019. This shift will allow the closure of the Hookipa Makai cottage during the 2015 fiscal year, and save Hawaii taxpayers at least $11 million over the next five fiscal years.

The recommendations follow months of work by the group led by Senior Family Court Judge R. Mark Browning, House Committee on Human Services Chair Rep. Mele Carroll, and Department of Human Services Deputy Director Barbara Yamashita.

The 20-member working group, launched in August, drew members from all three branches of state government, and includes representatives of local government, prosecutors, law enforcement, probation, non-profit service providers, and other key juvenile justice stakeholder groups. The group received technical assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety performance project.


California Visitor Dies After Scuba Diving in Waters Off Kona Identified as James Uihlein

Hawaiʻi Island police have initiated a coroner’s inquest case in connection with the death of a diver Thursday (December 12), in waters off Kona.

HPDBadgeAt 7:12 p.m., Fire Department personnel responded to Honokōhau Harbor for a report of an unresponsive man who was diving off the Kona Coast.

A 55-year-old man identified as James Uihlein of Fallbrook, California, had been scuba diving off a commercial dive boat when he became unresponsive. After returning to shore, Fire Department rescue personnel took him to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:27 p.m.

An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.

Coast Guard Icebreaker Visits Honolulu

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star made a scheduled port call to Honolulu Friday as it transits to conduct missions in the Antarctic.

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, home-ported in Seattle, made a scheduled port call in Honolulu, Friday, as it transits to conduct missions in the Antarctic. The Polar Star departed Seattle Dec. 3 for Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze for the first time since 2006 with the vital task of resupplying the National Science Foundation Scientific Research in McMurdo. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, home-ported in Seattle, made a scheduled port call in Honolulu, Friday, as it transits to conduct missions in the Antarctic. The Polar Star departed Seattle Dec. 3 for Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze for the first time since 2006 with the vital task of resupplying the National Science Foundation Scientific Research in McMurdo. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Tara Molle)

The Polar Star departed Seattle Dec. 3 for Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze for the first time since 2006 with the vital task of resupplying the National Science Foundation Scientific Research Station in McMurdo.

For more than 50 years Coast Guard icebreakers have deployed to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze. They will assist by creating a navigable shipping lane through the layers of ice in McMurdo Sound. Approximately eight million U.S. gallons of fuel will be sent to McMurdo residents through the channel and be delivered to Winter Quarters Bay. This fuel allows the Station to remain manned and ready during the freezing winter months.

This past summer Polar Star conducted sea trials in the Arctic to test all of the ship’s equipment and train the crew prior to embarking to Antarctica this winter. During the summer trip, Polar Star spent weeks in the Beaufort Sea north of Barrow, Alaska, testing propulsion machinery, conducting emergency drills and qualifying crewmembers in individual watchstations.

With a tumultuous schedule leading up to Polar Star’s Deep Freeze Deployment, the crew have not only overhauled many vital pieces of equipment from the bridge to the engine rooms, but have successfully completed a number of assessments to achieve their fully reactivated status.

Polar Star is a 399-foot polar class icebreaker with a 140-person crew. The cutter is recently out of a three-year, $90 million overhaul, which is part of the Coast Guard’s plan to reactivate the heavy icebreaker.


Big Island Police Searching for 16-Year-Old Hilo Girl Missing Since November

2/3/14 UPDATE: Hawaiʻi Island police have located 16-year-old Brianna Kehaulani Freitas-Jones of Hilo, who was reported missing.  She was found in good health Friday (January 31) in Puna.

Hawaiʻi Island police are searching for a 16-year-old Hilo girl who was reported missing.

Brianna Kehaulani Freitas-Jones

Brianna Kehaulani Freitas-Jones

Brianna Kehaulani Freitas-Jones was last seen in Hilo the afternoon of November 18. She is described as Caucasian, 5-foot-7, 130 pounds with green eyes and long brown hair.

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

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

3.0 Magnitude Earthquake Shakes Volcano Area of Big Island

A 3.0 magnitude earthquake hit the volcano area of the Big Island around 10:00 this morning:

30 Volcano2

Big Island Police Asking Public’s Help in Identifying Two Folks Caught on Surveilance Attempting to Burglarize Fast Food Restaurant

Hawaiʻi Island police are asking for the public’s help in identifying two persons captured on surveillance video during an attempted burglary at a fast food restaurant in Hilo.
Fast Food Thief
The attempted burglary on the 200 block of Waiānuenue Avenue took place in the early hours of October 8.

Fast Food Thief 2

The suspects did not make entry but caused damage to a security screen door.

Police ask anyone who knows the identity of the individuals in the photos to contact Detective Grant Todd at 961-2385 or

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo or 329-8181 in Kona 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.