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20 Kealakehe High School Students Suspended after Mass Brawl

December 19, 2012, 7:57 AM HST
* Updated December 19, 8:13 AM
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Around 20 students from Kealakehe High School in west Hawaii received suspensions of various lengths for the roles they played in mass fighting that occurred on Dec. 5 and 6.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported today that school-administered disciplinary actions ranged from suspensions to students being placed in alternative learning programs.

Principle Wilfred Mura­kami reportedly will be holding a community meeting in January to discuss racial tensions, and is planning on expanding anti-bullying initiatives. Murakami has been meeting with Marshallese parents to discuss problems their children have been having at the school.

Police arrested eight students following fighting on Dec. 6. A DOE spokeswoman said each of those students received three-day suspensions.

According to the Department of Education, ethnic tensions played a large role in the clashes. Art Souza, superintendent for the DOE’s West Hawaii Complex, explained earlier this month that the problem is larger than the incident at Kealakehe High School.


“This misunderstanding of cultural assimilation by Marshallese and Micronesian families is not isolated to Kealakehe …,” he stated, adding “this is a community issue that we are addressing.”


Parents have since complained that the alleged bullying continued past normal school hours on social media websites, exacerbating tensions.

The worst of the fights at the west Hawaii campus involved 20 to 30 students. The melee initiated a school lock-down, and eight students were arrested for disorderly conduct. The violence led school administrators to cancel classes on Dec. 7.

Kealakehe High School opened its doors in August of 1997, and according to the school’s website has an enrollment of approximately 1,600 students.

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