State seeks dismissal of lawmakers school crowding lawsuit

HONOLULU (AP) — State officials are seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Hawaii Republican Rep. Bob McDermott, who is calling on the state to improve what he calls “intolerable” conditions at an Oahu high school.

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HONOLULU (AP) — State officials are seeking to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Hawaii Republican Rep. Bob McDermott, who is calling on the state to improve what he calls “intolerable” conditions at an Oahu high school.

McDermott, who has two children attending Campbell High School, says overcrowding at the school has left students without enough space to eat lunch, bathrooms in disrepair and classrooms that are excessively hot.

The suit filed against Board of Education Chairman Lance Mizumoto went before a judge Wednesday, but no action was taken on the state’s motion for dismissal.

The state Attorney General’s Office issued a response on behalf of the Department of Education, saying McDermott and his supporters don’t have a legal right to support the claims.

“Plaintiffs have no fundamental due process right, either under the Hawaii Constitution or the federal Constitution, to demand the particular type of school facilities and services — e.g., permanent additional cafeteria and toilet facilities, cooler and quieter classrooms, increased extracurricular opportunities, etc. — that they deem desirable,” the attorney general’s filing states.

McDermott said he wants Gov. David Ige and his administration to come up with a plan to address overcrowding and other problems at Campbell. McDermott said earlier this year during a debate on the House floor that the student population is unacceptably high, and he also criticized state plans to prioritize building a new high school on Maui.

Campbell High School was built in 1961 to accommodate 1,800 students but now the student population is at 3,125. It’s expected to reach 3,600 by 2018.

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“Over time, the growth in the Ewa Plain has surpassed original school capacity plans,” said Donalyn Dela Cruz, director of communications for the DOE, who declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Dela Cruz said the department requested $35 million this year for several new buildings on the campus to accommodate the growing student population, but it received only $12 million from the state Legislature. She said the beginning stages of that project, which will add 27 classrooms, are underway.