State roundup for September 20
Schools to gain accreditation
HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Board of Education has approved a plan to accredit all public elementary schools by 2019.
Board Chairman Don Horner says the state department of education will use the same accreditation criteria as most private schools in Hawaii.
The ambitious plan is aimed at providing schools with periodic, in-depth reviews. Ninety-six of Hawaii’s public schools, including 13 elementary schools, have Western Association for Schools and Colleges accreditation.
The department hopes to have the 159 remaining elementary schools accredited by the association over a five-year period.
The program will cost about $745,000 a year, which includes providing training, extra support and guidance.
Plea change is sought in death
WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — A California man who pleaded no contest to manslaughter in the death of his girlfriend during a Maui vacation now says he’s willing to risk life in prison to change his plea.
Gerald Galaway testified Tuesday that he was in a “trance” and felt pressured when he accepted a plea agreement to the reduced manslaughter charge in the death of Celestial Cassman.
The Santa Cruz couple were vacationing last year when the attorney was killed. Galaway was originally charged with second-degree murder.
Galaway says he was under medication and was concerned about a financial burden of a trial on his family when he accepted the deal.
The judge did not rule on the motion to change Galaway’s plea and continued the hearing to next week.
Officer wants GPS device off
HONOLULU (AP) — A Honolulu police major facing federal extortion charges is asking that his GPS monitoring device be removed from his ankle for medical reasons.
Carlton Nishimura faces federal charges of extortion, lying to investigators, witness tampering and drug possession. He is awaiting trial.
A Wednesday hearing was scheduled for his motion to modify conditions of pretrial release.
Federal Public Defender Peter Wolff’s motion asks that the GPS requirement be eliminated because of a doctor’s letter saying it’s contributing to a condition that requires medication that has a negative effect on Nishimura’s cognition.
The motion says he needs to eventually get off the medication to prepare for trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Muehleck opposes eliminating GPS monitoring, noting that he is already allowed to leave his parents’ Waianae home for special reasons.
Wahiawa bridge opens one lane
WAHIAWA, Oahu (AP) — One lane of a Wahiawa bridge is open for morning rush-hour traffic.
State transportation officials on Wednesday opened a southbound lane of the bridge that has been closed for repairs.
Repairs to the Karsten Thot Bridge began this week, snarling traffic. In response to community complaints, the Honolulu-bound lane will be opened from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. starting Wednesday.
The lane is only open for passenger vehicles, Mondays through Fridays, during the duration of the project. The work is expected to last six weeks.
Officials say opening one lane will delay structural repairs for the 80-year-old bridge. The transportation department is trying to bring in additional work crews to counteract the delays.
That’s expected to raise costs for the $4.5-million project.
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