HILO, Hawaii — Cases of serious misconduct such as fighting and the use of illicit drugs increased at Big Island public schools this past school year, while offenses such as bullying and harassment declined, according to the Hawaii Department of Education.

Big Island schools tallied 839 Class A violations in 2016-17, compared with 734 in the 2015-16 school year, according to the department. During the same timeframe, Class B violations dropped from 1,755 cases to 1,654, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported (http://bit.ly/2v0rops ).

“Look at the numbers not so much as something that’s good or bad,” said Art Souza, superintendent of the Honokaa-Kealakehe-Kohala-Konawaena Complex Area. “But rather, as something that creates a real sense of urgency that, whatever the numbers are, we need to get better at it. And we need to create better conditions for the kids. I’m not going to get so caught in the degrees but rather look at, ‘Are we doing enough?'”

More than half of all violations last year were recorded in schools in the island’s Ka’u-Keaau-Pahoa Complex Area south of Hilo, which contains just under one-fourth of its public school population.

Kealakehe Intermediate School, which is in a complex area that accounted for 23 percent of violations, has noticed an increase in incidents related to technology, such as inappropriate social media use, Principal Mark Hackelberg said.

“They’re on Instagram and Snapchat, and when they’re mean to someone or targeting someone on campus, it gets blasted out,” Hackelberg said. “That’s the kind of thing we’ve seen an increase in — technology not being used ethically.”

The school has implemented a new corrective process aimed at “correcting the behavior more so than punishing the action,” Hackelberg said. Kealakehe also hired a school resource officer in March, which Hackelberg said has seemed to mitigate some issues.


Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/