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Thursday, March 2, 2000

Schools will get
safety managers

Schools Superintendent LeMahieu
says safety 'is a compelling issue'

By Crystal Kua


Hilo High School student Joel Samuels knows of students who can't focus on their studies because they don't feel safe on campus.

"I know personally if I was threatened or getting beaten up as soon as I stepped out of the classroom door, I'd probably spend that classroom period thinking, "OK, how can I get out of the classroom and not get beaten up,' " Samuels said. "And that obviously leads to me not learning that material in class."

Samuels said that although he's a student leader and sometimes counsels his peers or gives them advice, he believes someone with more expertise in safety and security issues can help get to the root of problems before they escalate into violent confrontations.

Samuels was on hand yesterday as the state Department of Education and the Honolulu Police Department unveiled a three-year pilot program that would establish school safety managers at 23 Oahu secondary schools.

"We need to make sure the schools are safe," Honolulu Assistant Police Chief Henry Lau said.

The cost to each high school will be $8,000, while the cost to each intermediate and middle school will be $5,000.

The exact cost of the program wasn't available but estimates range from $350,000 to a little more than $1 million.

The announcement came after a 6-year-old boy shot and killed a 6-year-old girl at an elementary school in Michigan.

Schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu said violence affecting schools throughout the nation and in Hawaii drives home the message that schools need to be a safe haven for learning.

"Safety on our campuses is a concern, is a compelling issue and one that commands our attention," LeMahieu said.

"A safe campus -- one that is free of violence, of disruption and that is free even of the psychological threat of violence or disruption -- is absolutely essential to an effective learning environment."

The company owned by Keith Kaneshiro, former city prosecutor and state public safety director, has won the contract to recruit candidates and train those chosen to become school safety managers, who will be paid $2,200 to $2,400 a month as independent contractors.

Kaneshiro said those with a law enforcement background interested in applying should call his company, KMK Associates, at 737-1921.

Kaneshiro's legal background will enable him to train the safety managers on legal issues such as the penal code and the appropriate use of force.

With their law enforcement background, safety managers could help principals and administrators work on issues such as truancy, youth gang violence, substance abuse and other safety issues affecting youth, Kaneshiro said.

"I see a need to have it in all schools," Kaneshiro said.

"It allows these kinds of issues to also be in the domain of an expert in that regard," Roosevelt High School Principal Dennis Hokama said.

"It really frees the administrator from some of the kinds of areas that they may not necessarily be fully trained to be the experts in."

School safety

Twenty-three Oahu schools will get safety managers:

Central Intermediate
Kaimuki High Kaimuki Middle
Kaiser High
Kalani High
Roosevelt High
Campbell High
Ilima Intermediate
Kapolei High
Kapolei Middle
Nanakuli High and Intermediate
Pearl City High
Waianae High Waianae Intermediate
Waipahu Intermediate
Castle High
Kahuku High
Kailua High
Kailua Intermediate
Kalaheo High
King Intermediate
Olomana Elementary
Waimanalo Elementary and Intermediate

E-mail to City Desk

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