HONOLULU (KHON2) — A Hawaii teacher accused of sharing child pornography is due in federal court Tuesday for a detention hearing.
Court records said Alden Bunag admitted that he recorded sexual encounters with a 13-year-old boy who was a former student. Records said Bunag also admitted to distributing child pornography involving other minor victims.
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According to the Hawaii Department of Education, Bunag held various positions sine 2012. That includes most recently a part-time temporary teacher at Pearl City High School from 2020 to 2022, a substitute teacher for the Leeward Oahu District from 2017 to 2022, and part-time temporary teacher at Ilima Intermediate from 2016 to 2017.
“The department will have their investigation and then thereafter, the Hawaii Teacher’s Standards Board will have an investigation as well,” said Rep. Justin Woodson, (D) Education Committee chair.
The Navy sent out this letter to parents Friday, stating Bunag worked part-time at the Hickam School Age Care and Teen Center. Another letter was sent out by Pearl City High School Friday, stating Bunag was a long-term substitute teacher. It goes on to state, the alleged incident doesn’t involved a Pearl City High student.
“That individual probably, if found guilty, will have their license revoked and not be able to teach not only here in Hawaii, but across the country,” Rep. Woodson said.
Background checks are mandatory for substitute teachers, but records show Bunag doesn’t have a criminal history. Lawmakers say follow up background checks are a nationwide discussion, but there are current communication structures in place.
“If students are feeling like there’s any type of inappropriate behavior from students, teachers, etc. then they can report that to a trusted teacher, counselor, principal, vice principal, or any administrator that they feel comfortable with,” said Rep. Woodson.
That’s where experts say opening up conversations with keiki about inappropriate behavior is crucial. It’s a tough topic, but having a safe space can make all the difference.
“They remember that, I talked to mom or dad about this,” said Harmony Vuycankiat, Ho’ola Na Pua education and program training manager. “I remember this is a red flag, and I should maybe go tell them that this person is trying to talk to me, because I know that they’re not going to shame me. They’re not going to make me feel bad.”
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Again, Bunag will be back in federal court Tuesday for a detention hearing.