Puna students relocated during lava threat to return to original schools


Students in lower Puna who were reassigned last October due to the threat of the Kilauea lava flow will return to their original schools for the upcoming school year, the Department of Education announced Monday.

Approximately 1,700 students and 300 employees at Pahoa Elementary, Pahoa High and Intermediate, Keaau Elementary, Keaau Middle, Keaau High, Keonepoko Elementary and Mountain View Elementary were affected by the shift.

“We realize that some families whose students were reassigned to another school may not want to return to their geographically determined school,” stated Chad Farias, Keaau, Kau, Pahoa complex area superintendent. “However, those reassignments were made based on the pending lava flow. Now that the lava has been determined no longer a threat to KKP, students must go back to the school they came from for their education.”

Keonepoko Elementary will welcome back students to its campus in Hawaiian Beaches and all public school students in the KKP complex area will start the 2015-16 school year in their geographically determined schools.

DOE officials added that families may apply for geographic exceptions and follow the guidelines under Chapter 13 should they decide to make a change.

“The Department is currently evaluating staffing needs and determining the appropriate processes to return the maximum number of employees to their pre-lava flow schools,” said Barbara Krieg, the DOE’s assistant superintendent for the Office of Human Resources. “There are a lot of details to be worked out and we appreciate the patience and understanding of our staff during this process.”

Decisions affecting employees will be made in consultation with the Hawaii State Teachers Association, Hawaii Government Employees Association and the United Public Workers union.

Information will be distributed to employees once details are finalized.

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