HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii is no stranger to school threats. Last week, a grand jury indicted a Kauai man after a bomb threat was made to Koloa Elementary School. Last month, police arrested a Maui teen for bringing a pellet gun and drugs onto a Maui High School bus.
The Hawaii Police Department reports as of Oct. 4, they have responded to 13 threats made at schools across Hawaii Island.
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Meanwhile, year to date, there have been three incidents documented as terroristic threatening involving Maui County schools according to the Maui Police Department.
Incidents like these have educators wanting to be better prepared.
“Even though we’re in Hawaii, it could happen to us,” said Al Caragnilla, Farrington High School Principal. “So just being prepared is one thing, and I just don’t think we’re prepared enough.”
Now, the Hawaii Department of Education is holding its first school safety conference. Over 700 principals, teachers, and school staff attended safety training on Wednesday.
“Anything that slows down the bad guy from getting to his victims is a good thing,” said Sean Burke, School Safety Advocacy Council President.
Educators are learning about how to respond during a crisis from national experts taking a page right out of real situations.
“It’s pretty intense when you see live footage of what happened and what can happen at your school. I think protecting the kids is first and foremost and the teachers and looking at mitigation strategies of how we can do that,” said Carganilla.
Experts say a difference between school campuses here compared to the mainland is the open layout, making it harder to secure in some situations. Schools will be asking for more resources from the legislature to better protect students and staff.
“It could be staff, school resource officers, devices or money for certain gates or doors on in different areas,” said Carganilla.
The DOE does have a school safety committee that ensures each school is conducting drills and debriefs after every school threat.
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“They also are the ones that respond to any additional training requests that are needed or if it’s recognized that certain situations are happening, we might need to beef up training in that particular area,” said Heidi Armstrong, Department of Education Deputy Superintendent. “They do bring that training into the school or complex area.”