Maui News

Temporary closure of Lahainaluna boy’s dorm comes amid investigation into misconduct allegations

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Lahainaluna. PC: file Maui Now / Wendy Osher

A temporary closure of the boys’ dormitory at Lahainaluna High School went into effect on Tuesday, Feb. 22, and will continue for nearly a month through March 20, 2022, the state Department of Education has confirmed.

The DOE points toward ongoing staffing challenges at the 185-year-old boarding program, saying a lack of adequate adult male supervision presents a health and safety issue.

“Temporary measures have been exhausted and are not sustainable,” TA Principal Lora-lea Grando said in a Feb. 12 letter to parents of students in the boarding program.

She said the school will revisit conditions at that time to determine if the closure needs to be extended. The girls’ dormitory is not impacted by this action.

A DOE spokesperson tells Maui Now that there are a total of 38 students in the boarding program, including 23 male and 15 female.

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Four days after Grando’s letter was issued, Complex Area Superintendent Rebecca Winkie wrote a follow up letter acknowledging an investigation into misconduct allegations.

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“An internal memorandum was issued around the same time to our boarding staff and school administrators to inform them of misconduct allegations, which include the inappropriate use of physical punishment in the form of assigning physical labor to students, the hazing of students, and the use of illegal drugs in the boarding dormitory. The internal memo has since been shared on social media and we want you to have the proper context of this situation,” Winkie wrote.

According to Winkie, the Department immediately initiated investigations regarding the allegations.

“In order to protect student and staff privacy and the integrity of the investigations, we cannot disclose details; however, please be assured that the safety and well-being of our students is a top priority. The allegations are being taken seriously, will be investigated thoroughly, and appropriate actions will be taken,” Winkie wrote.

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She also spoke to the value of tradition that the Lahainaluna boarding program provides, saying the DOE is doing everything it can “to support and maintain the program at a high-quality level that our students deserve.”

During the one-month closure, affected students were offered three options to ensure continuity of learning: attend Lahainaluna in person as a day student; enroll in a distance learning program while maintaining status as a Lahainaluna student; or re-enroll in their originating pubic school, based on geographic residence.

According to Grando, students who select either of the first two options will still be able to attend and participate in extracurricular activities and school-sponsored events at Lahainaluna as long as they meet existing participation criteria.

The Department is actively recruiting for dorm attendants. Qualified and interested candidates are encouraged to apply.

Back in 2015 Maui Now reported that the Lahainaluna boarding program had faced reduction in funding.  A “Taste of Aloha” fundraising event was held that year to support scholarships, dorm maintenance, and the boarding school agricultural department.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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