HONOLULU (KHON2) — The safety of Hawaii students was the main focus during a briefing with lawmakers and the Department of Education. The DOE superintendent said expanding active threat training is a goal for the department.
The Hawaii public school system faces its highest number of threats in the past three years; 2022 recorded 152 threats.
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DOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi said these are threats officials take seriously.
Hayashi said, “Threats are made primarily through social media posts, texts, email, school phone calls, graffiti and even through fax. These range from vague to very specific, and all threats are taken seriously.”
Hayashi said there are several layers of training that school staff and teachers go through. The threat of active shooters remains a concern. At least 80 schools have gone through active shooter training statewide.
Hayashi said, “All of our schools, complex areas, state and all of our schools do have plans in place should any kind of emergency occur that they are regularly practiced in a drill.”
The Hawaii State Teachers Association President Osa Tui said there should be standardized active threat training for all schools. Currently, school principals would opt in for active shooter training.
“Yes, absolutely. If there’s some type of standardization, probably for the best,” Tui said. “If one school is getting substandard training and then another school is getting excellent training, that’s absolutely not the best for that school that got substandard training.”
Tui said there should also be options for teachers. While some educators would not mind going through an active threat scenario, others would.
Tui said, “People acting as shooters coming onto campus; we know that for some of our teachers, that’s very traumatic.”
The House Committee on Education Chair Representative Justin Woodson said the briefing provided a better understanding of the DOE’s emergency readiness and sees some schools are better equipped to respond to emergencies than others.
Woodson said, “The schools are at different degrees of preparedness. As it relates specifically to active shooters.”
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The Hawaii State Teachers Association would also like to see more vulnerability assessments at school campuses, given many schools in Hawaii have little to no fences or barriers to the outside communities.