More than 1,700 students from Lahaina public schools have not enrolled since the wildfire

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PC: Hawaiʻi Department of Education (8.27.23)

The state Department of Education estimates that out of the nearly 3,000 students who were enrolled at four Lahaina public schools prior to the Aug. 8 wildfire, 1,757 of them have not enrolled in another public school or opted for distance learning.

Department officials tell Maui Now that of the more than 1,700 outstanding students, some may have moved out of state, enrolled in private schools, or have taken a pause while they await the reopening of their Lahaina campus. The number has shrunk from 2,000 last week, “and so it’s been shrinking because more kids keep enrolling in our other schools or distance learning,” said Department spokesperson Nanea Kalani.

While the Kamehameha III Elementary campus was damaged beyond repair, the three other campuses serving west side students—Princess Nāhi‘ena‘ena Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate and Lahainaluna High—are expected to reopen after fall break in mid-October.

King Kamehameha III Elementary was damaged beyond repair during the Aug. 8 wildfire incident. PC: Wendy Osher (8.29.23)

The campuses have been closed since the Aug. 8 wildfires as they undergo environmental assessments for air, water and soil quality, as well as ensuring stable power and sufficient broadband connectivity.

Kalani tells Maui Now that there is no timeline or mandate for students impacted by the wildfire event to enroll. “We know folks are in different places. We know that some are not ready to take advantage of the options available. We’re not forcing anybody. We’re highly encouraging them to enroll if they’re able to and they’re ready to, but we’re not mandating that they must enroll,” she said.

Of the 603 students previously enrolled at King Kamehameha III School, 154 have re-enrolled in other public schools, while 50 have enrolled in distance learning. Of the 680 perviously enrolled students at Princess Nāhi‘ena‘ena Elementary, 219 are enrolled in other public schools and 91 are in distance learning. For Lahaina Intermediate, of the 647 perviously enrolled students, 173 have enrolled at other public schools, and 103 are in distance learning. There were 1,037 Lahainaluna High School student pre-fire. Of that number, 186 are re-enrolled at other public schools and 234 are in distance learning.


Last week, the Department of Education announced options for displaced students by designating Central and South Maui schools as temporary school sites.

The department announced the following temporary sites for students to return to learning environments with their teachers and peers to help facilitate the healing process and restore some sense of normalcy they await clearance for the Lahaina campuses to reopen.  The Lahaina schools will retain their school status, but in the following temporary locations:

  • Grades K-5: King Kamehameha III Elementary and Princess Nāhi‘ena‘ena Elementary students will be temporarily assigned to either Wailuku Elementary or Kamali‘i Elementary in Kīhei.
  • Grades 6-8: Lahaina Intermediate students will be temporarily assigned to Lokelani Intermediate in Kīhei.
  • Grades 9-12: For Lahainaluna students, the school will temporarily function as a school within a school at Kūlanihāko‘i High in Kīhei.

The state Board of Education is scheduled to meet again next week Thursday.

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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