Student suspended for bringing explosive to school

The Kaua’i High School sophomore caught with explosive material on campus last Friday is suspended for the rest of the school year, according to a state Department of Education official.

“It’s just unfortunate that the student made a bad decision,” said Kaua’i District School Superintendent Daniel Hamada.

In keeping with the Department of Education’s disciplinary procedures under Chapter 19 of the Hawai’i Administrative Rules, the student was suspended for the remainder of the school year for possession of a firearm, which includes any explosive or incendiary device.

The law states that any student who brings such an item to school will be expelled for no less than one calendar year. School officials may modify the suspension but haven’t yet decided whether it will continue to next school year.

The entire school was evacuated after School Resource Officer Paul Applegate helped determine that one item in question contained explosive materials. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team from Schofield Barracks on O’ahu was called to remove and dispose of the device.

“When there’s anything of this severity, the police are called and it’s up to them what action they’re going to take,” Hamada said, referring to DOE “Class A offenses” under the Hawai’i Administrative Rules.

Under Hawai’i law, students who bring weapons or firearms to school (also, drugs and/or paraphernalia, or who commit murder, burglary, robbery, sex offenses or terroristic threatening) will be dismissed for a year, but students in grades 7-12 may also be dismissed for a year for assault, property damage or extortion, depending upon the judgment of the school principal.

It was unclear whether the boy was detained and later released to his parents, or if his parents brought him from school to the police station for further questioning.

Hamada explained that though the student will not be able to return to school or participate in school activities, he would be able to pick up schoolwork and possibly get after-school tutoring. “We just want to make sure we don’t leave him out stranded,” he said.

If the student had refused to consent to the search, his parents would be called to the school, Hamada said.

State law says that searches may be taken if the health and safety of persons would otherwise be endangered. Juvenile case prosecutor Jennifer Wynn explained that school officials need a reasonable suspicion that a student is in possession of contraband in order to initiate a search, and school searches are conducted on a case-by-case basis.

If while school officials are looking for one form of contraband material, another is found, the search is still legal if they had a reasonable suspicion to begin with, she said.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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