Keep North Shore satellite school open

We know that Mayor Derek Kawakami just signed a sixth supplementary emergency proclamation for the months ahead. We know this pertains to roads, bridges, parking lots, cultural centers, “rules and regulations,” but why isn’t it pertaining to the school that was set up for the emergency and the well-being of our kids?

So many men, women, and children are showing real signs of PTSD, especially when it rains. Many Wainiha/Haena residents have had drastic losses in income and are recreating their lives from scratch. For us, the floods in April have changed everything. The convoy adds hours of waiting for everyone involved, and other Kauai residents can’t even get access to beaches, attend parties or play dates.

The road crew has now installed a large, permanent sign that says, “Caution Extreme Landslides Ahead,” obviously anticipating more EXTREME landslides. And when are the landslides supposed to happen? It is now our rainy season.

This is what we are dealing with. The roads are not safe. We cannot have selective emergency status and a clear conscious, when so many millions of dollars were appropriated for “flood damage.” Where is all the money going? Where has it gone? Why haven’t funds been set aside for our families? Why does the Department of Education threaten to pull the plug on this satellite school every single semester? With all the kids, parents and teachers having to wait until the day before school to find out if they even HAVE a school for one more semester. How insensitive and incredibly stressful for parents and children!

We need our leaders, our Legislature, and our concerned community members to keep this school open with a solid budget, until the end of the school year, to give these kids a chance to end strong, succeed and make the administration and teachers proud that they have supported this endeavor.

Since the flood, the students have shown great improvement against all odds. All students are catching up and are again meeting or exceeding the requirements set out by the DOE. At the very least, we need our school through the rainy winter, flooding and hurricane season. The road is still devastated, dangerous and vulnerable.

Many of us do not want to be traveling these broken roads, let alone with our keiki. The ground is full and flash flooding is now frequent. Now, when it rains, the water moves differently off the mountains. Dangerous waterfalls develop quickly, pouring clay mud onto the roadways. This makes the roads extremely slippery.

Recently, multiple convoys have been caught in dangerous flash floods and, back in August, people were stranded for days while crews cleared major mudslides. People spent days apart from their children. Who will take responsibility for the safety of our stranded kids staying overnight with strangers and everyone else in a homeless shelter in Hanalei? We are the people affected by this “emergency.”

We need this school for our community and continuity of care for our children. We want to stay close to our children. We want our kids to feel a sense of security, accomplishment, and be caught up and feel successful at the end of all this.

We do not want them thrown into a new school, new classroom, with a new teacher, in a new-and-NO-friend environment, where they will surely feel behind.

Please keep the satellite school in Haena open until the end of the school year in May.

Mahalo for your kokua.

•••

Brandi Miller is a concerned parent, single mother of a 10-year-old, flood survivor, long-term North Shore resident, active voter and community member.

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