GARY KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
A fire set on Feb. 8 destroyed a portable classroom at Baldwin High School and partially scorched two others, totaling $230,000 worth of damage.
Rivalry suspected in Maui school fire
Graffiti has appeared at both Baldwin and King Kekaulike High
WAILUKU » Maui police detectives are investigating who started a fire that caused $230,000 in damage at Baldwin High School, and whether it could have been a result of a rivalry with King Kekaulike High School.
Baldwin High in Wailuku and King Kekaulike in Pukalani have had episodes in the past month or so of spray-paint graffiti appearing on buildings, putting down one school and praising the other.
"We're not discounting anything. We're looking into everything," police Lt. John Jakubczak said.
Jakubczak said there are a lot of rumors floating around and nothing to substantiate that the fire or graffiti was done by students from another school.
He said it could have been someone trying to inflame bad feelings between the two schools.
Detectives have no suspects, but have interviewed several "people of interest," he said.
"We anticipate talking to several more people as this thing continues," he said.
Jakubczak said the investigation might lead to interviewing King Kekaulike students, but it is too early to tell and police are looking into various rumors.
Jakubczak said it is the first time in 10 years that deliberately set fires have caused extensive damage to a Maui school.
The blaze on Feb. 8 leveled one portable classroom and partially scorched two others, fire officials said.
The fire has forced some Baldwin High students to attend classes in the cafeteria and a multipurpose building for about three weeks, at least until repairs are made to two portables and a new portable is brought on campus, said Baldwin Principal Stephen Yamada.
Yamada said the graffiti, saying something like "BHS sucks, King Kekaulike rules," appeared about a month ago in the same area as the portables that were burned.
He said he does not know what caused the fire and has had no indication that it was a personal vendetta against any teacher or a result of interschool rivalry.
Yamada noted that there was a fire in a shed at the high school about a month ago.
"I don't know if any of these fires are related," he said.
King Kekaulike Principal Susan Scofield said the spray-paint graffiti on the buildings of her school appeared about two weeks ago, after a weekend.
Scofield said the graffiti had a similar type of message, denigrating King Kekaulike and praising Baldwin High.
She said the graffiti appeared on several buildings on campus and also on a structure at the school's stadium.
The parking lots to the school were locked, and she did not know how anyone gained access to the facilities.
"Whatever they had to do took a long time," she said. "It's very disheartening to see a group of people would be so inclined to spend their time on this kind of thing."
Scofield said she has had no indication that there is hostility between the two schools or that the graffiti at King Kekaulike was done by Baldwin High students.
She said soon after the graffiti incident at her school, she went on the intercom to tell the students there was no evidence that the vandalism was a result of Baldwin High students, because she did not want anyone to jump to conclusions and consider retaliation.
"Whether it's graffiti or a fire, it's senseless," she said.