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Lawsuit: Hawaii schools allowed bullying, violence

September 1, 2018

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii’s public school administrators have systematically failed to protect students from bullying and harassment, leading to violent attacks, according to a class-action lawsuit.

Several parents announced Friday the filing of a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Hawaii State Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto and Department of Education employees, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

The lawsuit accuses the department of “deliberate indifference” that “needlessly puts the entire student population at risk of significant and irreparable damage.”

Department of Education spokesman Derek Inoshita declined to comment on how the department handles bullying and harassment in general, or more specifically to address the allegations in the lawsuit. “Unfortunately, we can’t comment or provide any specific details due to the pending litigation,” he said.

Along with damages and other relief, the lawsuit calls for appointment of a special master to take over the Department of Education to ensure children’s safety.

The parents are represented by attorney Eric Seitz, who led the charge in a class-action lawsuit decades ago that resulted in sweeping changes in special education in Hawaii under a federal consent decree.

“It’s not difficult for them to put resources in place to deal with these situations and take action to defuse them,” Seitz said. “From the standpoint of the horrendous incidents we’ve seen, I don’t understand why this isn’t a priority.”

Along with Kishimoto, the lawsuit names Principals Elynne E. Chung of Mililani Middle, Bernadette Tyrell of Castle and Beverly Stanich of Wailuku Elementary as well as Robert Davis, Central Oahu complex-area superintendent, and unnamed Department of Education defendants.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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