HAAS Governing Board delays action on abuse allegations


The Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences Governing Board delayed action Tuesday at a meeting regarding abuse allegations against a teacher.

Steve Hirakami, HAAS director, said the meeting was to discuss alleged violations of a settlement between the public charter school and the teacher, Shannon K. Smith. He said Smith left before the board could speak with her because she felt unsafe after people started showing up outside.

It’s unclear if any threats were made against her.

“We were unable to proceed because the teacher didn’t attend the meeting,” Hirakami said. “She got scared of the crowd.”

Smith is alleged to have physically and verbally abused students. She was placed on administrative leave in January, Hirakami said.

About two dozen parents waited outside HAAS’ “InDigital” building in Pahoa after discovering the meeting was not being hosted at the school campus.

Hirakami said the school changed the location of the meeting for Smith’s safety, at the request of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. He claimed HAAS, as a charter school, is exempt from sunshine laws that require meeting locations to be announced.

The board exited executive session, which is closed to the public, to make a brief statement to the parents. Board members took no questions. Several police officers were present.

“Based upon what transpired, we can’t move on with business,” said Kurt Dela Cruz, HAAS board community representative.

Several parents said they were frustrated by a lack of information from the school and the board’s decision to have the meeting away from campus without notifying them. Some gave thumbs down or shouted “Shame!” as board members drove away.

“We were going to get an answer today,” said Cynthia Palm. “They told us.”

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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