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Kumu, Mākua Gather for Sign Waving in Effort to Raise Awareness to Leadership Issues at Kona’s Hawaiian Immersion School

By Tiffany DeMasters
March 27, 2021, 8:00 AM HST
* Updated March 26, 10:48 PM
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On Friday, March 26, parents, teachers and children from Ke Kula ‘O ‘Ehunuikaimalino gathered in front of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Kona Temple along Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway for a sign-waving, raising awareness to their plea for a change in the school’s administration.

Kumu (teachers) and mākua (parents) say the recently-hired principal Makala Pa’akaula has created a hostile work environment after months of reported bullying, harassment and intimidation. As a result, teachers are talking about leaving the school.

“The pilikia that’s happening on our campus is not OK and I stand with my kumu and I stand for my keiki,” said Noelani Moku, one of many mākua out waving signs on Friday.

The Hawai‘i State Teachers Association (HSTA) has filed two grievances against Pa’akaula, for creating a hostile work environment. One is a class grievance filed in November on behalf of all the teachers at the school and the second is an individual grievance filed earlier this month on behalf of one teacher, Kawehi Zoller.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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