Friday, May 14, 1999

Photo provided by Iwalani Kaleikoa's family
In this photo taken Nov. 26 at the baptism of her grandchild,
Kylie-Ann Bello, Iwalani Kaleikoa stands at far right, with
her daughters, Margaret, left, and Rebecca, middle.

Mother of 6
dies; student

The Waianae school worker
was struck in the chest when
she tried to break up a fight

By Jaymes K. Song
and Rod Ohira
Star Bulletin


The two Waianae Intermediate School girls whose fight resulted in the death of a school worker have been placed on day-to-day "crisis suspension" while a police and school investigation continues.

Iwalani Kaleikoa, a breakfast and lunch supervisor, was struck in the chest by an elbow outside the school's cafeteria at 7:45 a.m. yesterday while trying to restrain one of the girls, police said.

The blow caused Kaleikoa to fall and hit her head on a door, police said. She died at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center at 8:57 a.m.

Police booked a 14-year-old girl for second-degree murder. She was released to the custody of her mother pending further investigation.

The situation was normal today at Waianae Intermediate, Principal Amy Martinson indicated.

"We are trying to maintain a normal instructional environment throughout this period," said Martinson.


Family members described Kaleikoa as a friendly woman with a warm smile who disliked fighting.

"She didn't like violence and believed there are other ways to settle things," George Kaleikoa said of his 44-year-old mother.

Iwalani Kaleikoa, a Makaha resident and mother of six, had worked part-time at Waianae Intermediate for about six years, said her husband.

"She always used to say 'we got to make money to pay bills' and when we didn't have enough, she made leis and arts and crafts to sell," William Kaleikoa Jr. said of his Kauai-born wife.

"She was a happy, friendly, giving, humble person and the backbone of this family. She was the one who kept everything in place and worried about the kids."

William Kaleikoa Jr. dropped his wife off at work yesterday.

"She was happy and I told her: "See you at 12:30,' " he said. "At 8:30, I get a call telling me that my wife is lying straight down on her back."

According to Department of Education statistics, Waianae Intermediate was the second-highest school in the state last year in reported assaults and disorderly conducts, behind Waianae High School. The intermediate school had 24 reported assaults and 212 disorderly conduct reports.

Disorderly conduct includes everything from disrupting school by making too much noise to fighting, according to DOE records.

And the number of disorderly conduct reports have been rising at Waianae Intermediate.

In 1996-97, the school reported 197 disorderly conducts and 42 assaults. In 1995-96, the school reported 164 disorderly conducts and 13 assaults.

DOE spokesman Greg Knudsen said that while the number of incidents is higher than at most other schools, this kind of "freak accident related to a violent act can happen at any school."

"There's not a single campus immune from students fighting," Knudsen said.

Martinson wouldn't comment on the figures, saying she was not aware of the statistics.

"To me, Waianae is a wonderful middle school," she said.

Yesterday William Kaleikoa Jr. sat in his garage, near the workbench where his wife used to shred satin for leis and talk on the telephone every afternoon.

"For 26 years, she was a beautiful wife," he said, trying to hold back tears. "Now that she's not here, things don't feel the same.

"I told my children their mom would always be with them, that she's on a mission right now."

The family celebrated Mother's Day together at Sam Choy's restaurant in Iwilei.

"She loved her children and no matter how mad they got her, she always knew how to take care of things," he said.

George Kaleikoa last saw his mother on Sunday.

"She was happy, and the last time I saw her, she had a smile on her face," he said. "I'll always remember her smiling."

Relatives who gathered at the Kaleikoas' home recalled how "Auntie Iwa" was always willing to help others. "She baby-sat everybody's kids and loved all of them like her own," said one relative.

Besides her husband and oldest son, Iwalani Kaleikoa is survived by sons Aaron, 25, William III, 21, and Samuel, 20; daughters Rebecca, 17, and Margaret, 12, and two grandchildren, Kylie-Ann Bello and Ano'ikamana'o Carter.

Services are pending.

In a written statement, Education Superintendent Paul LeMahieu said, "My heart goes out to the family of Mrs. Kaleikoa and to her friends and fellow workers at Waianae Intermediate."

The incident, he said, "is especially troubling because of its senselessness. It is a tragic consequence of what can happen when anger gives way to violence."

Martinson sent a letter home with students yesterday, notifying parents of the incident.

A crisis-response team of social workers, counselors and psychologists was on campus to assist students and faculty yesterday and was to return today, Martinson said.

E-mail to City Desk

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