Letters to the editor: 12-05-18

Abandoned boats now too?

For the past three weeks, I have noticed a big boat on Queen Kaahumanu Highway. I was just wondering if maybe the SS Minnow, the skipper and Gilligan had been found here on the Big Island?

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How long will this eyesore be allowed to sit and all the visitors be subjected to this, not to mention the residents who must see it on a daily basis? If it’s anything like how abandoned cars are dealt with, maybe a long time.

Bubba Rogers

Kona

Columnist wrong in criticism of school

In response to Dennis Gregory’s column “School distancing itself from crime smells bad,” what really smells bad are the wild inaccuracies of his claims. West Hawaii Today would do well to vet its columnists for factual accuracy before publishing. Some of the falsehoods and loaded language used border on libelous.

The attack on the victim is abhorrent, and I fully endorse the most severe consequences on the perpetrators. But they are the ones to blame, and trying to hold the school accountable, especially based on the inaccuracies and falsehoods that Mr. Gregory is trying to spread, is absurd.

First and foremost, he repeatedly and exclusively refers to the victim as a “girl” and implies through his writing that she was a student that the school was obligated to protect; she was in fact a grown woman the age of 29 with no connection to the school when the attack occurred (as has been reported in WHT, the paper he writes for regularly). So no, the school does not have “a special relationship between (us) the state, and (the girl) the plaintiff.”

Secondly, he attacks the principal about “not knowing where they were?” The attack happened at night well after school hours and off-campus several miles away. Is the principal supposed to know the whereabouts and actions of 1,200-plus students 24/7?

But that is beside the point. When being interviewed, I believe the question put forward to the principal at the time was about the boys’ status as students at the school, and the response was that he couldn’t say, not that he didn’t know. Being a former DOE employee himself, I would think that Mr. Gregory would know that federal law (FERPA) expressly protects student confidentiality, and DOE employees are forbidden to disseminate information about them, including attendance status. The DOE is in fact doing its duty to protect the students.

We know now that these boys are guilty based on their pleas. But what if they weren’t? Think of the harm that could be done if a student was falsely accused of something, a misguided individual called the school posing as a reporter asking if the student was there, and then that individual came to the school looking to hurt the student after receiving confirmation they were. This is just one possible scenario that FERPA is designed to prevent.

If Mr. Gregory believes that the school “knew or reasonably should have known about” the boys’ proclivities toward violence as the plaintiff’s complaint states, I feel I should hold him responsible for any and all illegal and violent acts of any students under his guidance during his time with the DOE; he was a substitute teacher at Kealakehe High School (and probably other schools) with daily interactions with hundreds of students, after all. He should be “rushing to (the victim’s) side with an apology and give (them) whatever monetary compensation (they) ask for.” He may have even had one of these boys in his class at one time. As an employee of the DOE, he should have known what they were going to do.

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Robb Dahlke

Kailua-Kona