CIRA de CASTILLOTGI Staff Writer
LIHU’E — The homeless Ni’ihau School of Kekaha is expected to be established
as a Department of Education charter school, Malakai K. Kanahele announced
Friday at an Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) land committee meeting on
The school has been operating in a Kekaha park pavilion for the
Kanahele, a parent leader of the school, has been advocating for
an appropriate Ni’ihau style learning program, taught in English, for Ni’ihau
children who reside in Kekaha.
Kanahele asked OHA to provide funds needed
to match the grant money that has been secured for the charter school.
Louis Hao, OHA land committee chair, told Kanahele that the OHA Budget and
Finance committee has scheduled his request on an upcoming agenda and he hopes
to have some kind of decision soon.
Tom Helm, an education advocate who
wrote the federal grant that brought $2.6 million into the state for charter
schools, said the funds are from the U.S. Department of Education’s Public
Charters School Program to support the planning stages of public charter school
Ni’ihau School has been chartered under the state
Department of Education and will be moving forward with the planning and
implementation stage. The new school is expected to open in August
Helm explained that the Ni’ihau School is one of 21 “New Century
Charter Schools” in Hawaii and one of three on Kaua’i. The Kanu I Ka Pono
Charter School of Anahola and Ke Kula Ni’ihau 0 Kekaha, a Hawaiian language
school affiliated with Kekaha Elementary School, are part of the charter school
grant program that is administered by the Hawai’i Department of
The Hawai’i awards can be renewed for up to three years and is
expected to total $7.9 million.
Like regular public schools, public charter
schools in Hawai’i must enroll a balanced representation of the school’s
community, must not charge tuition, and must link their educational program to
achievement of the Hawai’i Content and Performance Standards.
“I am so
pleased that the children will have a school that will be taught in English and
in the Ni’ihau style,” Kanahele said.
Ipo Torio, of Kanu I Ka Pono Charter
School of Anahola, assisted the effort to develop the charter school for the
Ni’ihau children of Kekaha.