East Hawaii News

Pahoa, Kea’au Students Returning to ‘Home’ Schools

April 20, 2015, 10:36 AM HST
* Updated April 20, 10:39 AM
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Students in the lower Puna area who were affected by the June 27 lava flow threat will return to their original schools. The announcement came Monday morning from the Hawai’i State Department of Education, who also announced earlier this month that Keonepoko Elementary will reopen its doors.

According to the DOE, all students in the Kea’au, Ka’u, Pahoa complex area who were affected in October 2014 by the previously threatening lava flow will return to their geographically determined schools for the 2015-16 school year.

The schools who experienced a shift in student location include Pahoa Elementary, Pahoa High & Intermediate, Kea’au Elementary, Kea’au Middle, Kea’au High, Keonepoko Elementary, and Mountain View Elementary.

“We realize that some families whose students were reassigned to another school may not want to return to their geographically determined school,” stated Chad Farias, KKP complex area superintendent. “However, those reassignments were made based on the pending lava flow. Now that the lava has been determined no longer a threat to KKP, students must go back to the school they came from for their education.”

According to the DOE, families who are interested in changing their child’s school may follow the guidelines under Chapter 13 and apply for a Geographic Exception.

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“The Department is currently evaluating staffing needs and determining the appropriate processes to return the maximum number of employees to their pre-lava flow schools,” said Barbara Krieg, the DOE’s assistant superintendent for the Office of Human Resources. “There are a lot of details to be worked out and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our staff during this process.”

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Officials say that decisions affecting employees will be made in consultation with the Hawai’i State Teachers Association, Hawai’i Government Employees Association, and the United Public Workers union. Details have not yet been finalized.

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