Saturday, November 27, 1999

Maui boys accused
of assault get
longer suspensions

By Gary T. Kubota
Maui correspondent


WAILUKU -- Three students who allegedly assaulted a schoolmate at Kalama Intermediate will be suspended for a week or two longer, Maui school officials say.

The discipline follows the completion of an investigation yesterday by school Principal Stephen Yamada.

Cody Tavares, 13, suffering from a bruised and swollen pancreas, has been at Kapiolani Hospital, since the incident on campus Nov. 17 during lunch recess.

Three boys, ages 14 and under, were initially suspended for five days.

Maui District Superintendent Paul Brown said two boys will be suspended an additional 10 days and the other, an additional five days.

Brown said the assault warranted additional discipline and follows disciplinary policies at Kalama.

He said that while the injury to Cody was very serious, the investigation found the three boys "were not troublemakers."

"These particular boys have no prior history of any trouble or difficulties at Kalama school," Brown said.

Brown said he believes the boys involved in the assault are no threat to student safety.

He said he had the impression the students were engaged in "horseplay" and didn't realize they were causing serious injury to Cody.

"These kids weren't even arguing," Brown said. "They were playing."

He said he feels on a school-system level, there is a need for students to realize that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and can lead to serious injury.

Brown said he is advising all schools to take a serious look and review their policies and procedures in responding to reports of harassment and assaults.

"We want to make sure we're sensitive to what students are feeling," he said.

Brown said there were times when adults were informed that teasing was occurring but the teasing was taking place on both sides.

"The boys were teasing Cody, and Cody was teasing," Brown said.

Brown said when the teasing was reported, school officials told the students to stop because someone could get hurt.

Brown said he plans to review a police investigation into the assault on Monday, after it has been forwarded to the prosecutor's office.

Cody's father, George Tavares, declined comment.

E-mail to City Desk

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