Rep. McDermott Files a Class Action Lawsuit on behalf of Campbell HS Children
McDermott said he has been pushed to brink by the lack of urgency, inattention, and lethargic attitude of the named government officials.
News Release from Office of Rep Bob McDermott October 13, 2016
State Representative Bob McDermott filed a class action Lawsuit today on behalf of his children and the children of Campbell High School naming Governor Ige, DOE Superintendent Matayoshi, and BOE Chairman Mizumoto as defendants in breach of their constitutional duties to explicitly provide the appropriate school physical facilities for students, under Article X, Section 1 of the Hawaii State Constitution. With over 3200 students currently enrolled at Campbell it is grossly over crowded. The average high school enrollment in Hawaii is 1023 students. The lack of any sense of urgency on the part of the named government officials compelled Rep. McDermott to take extraordinary action by asking for legal intervention.
McDermott’s attorney John Carroll said, “I took the case because Bob asked me to help these children. The conditions are deplorable, unfair, and certainly not in keeping with the spirit of our state constitution of equity and equality in the deliverance of an educational product.”
McDermott’s lawsuit focuses on five specific areas:
1. McDermott asks the Court to order the State to fully fund the proposed 35 million dollar additional building that is need to accommodate the DOE’s own several hundred student increase in the next 3 ½ years taking the total enrollment up to a projected 3,545 With 44 portables in place, a fully funded building is an immediate need and must completed within 18 months.
2. The lawsuit also asks that the court order the state to select a site for the new “East Kapolei High School” from a long-completed study that is collecting dust. The DOE had 4 Ewa/Leeward sites studied and evaluated thoroughly, but has yet to select a site despite having five million dollars released for design and planning. McDermott is also requesting that the campus be completed within 5 years of the court’s order, as this will relieve both Campbell and Kapolei and help accommodate the exploding growth of the west side.
3. McDermott is further requesting improved cafeteria capacity as the facility currently only holds 890 children, since all 3200 students are supposed to commence lunch at the same time, this is grossly inadequate forcing students to consume their meals in the hot sun or stairways distributed from make shift serving areas spread about the campus. Consequently, an average of only 17% of the students are served each day which McDermott believes is a direct result of the poor conditions.
4. McDermott is finally asking that the entire campus be fitted with air conditioning. While he applauds Gov. Ige’s 100 million dollar heat abatement program, the hottest high school in the State does not need token “heat abatement” (like planting trees), but A/C to bring the temperatures down to 72 for optimum learning not the 88 or 90 degrees heat abatement will accomplish.
5. Lastly, McDermott is asking that the monies allocated for the new Kihei High School be withheld (an injunction) as the appropriated project violates the DOE’s own EDSPECS in three sections, and extraordinarily expensive and not needed as enrollment in the area is declining and directly impacts the funds available for the bona fide emergency at Campbell.
An exasperated McDermott said, “honestly, they have behaved as if they do not care. Well I do. The kids and community have suffered long enough. As a parent of two Campbell children, I have skin in the game, this is real and our children live it each and every day.”
Ewa Lions Club President Kurt Fevella said, “I grad 30 years ago. Since then I have seen minimal improvements, aside from an Admin building Saber Hall, we have gotten very little and the student population has grown exponentially. I support Rep. McDermott’s efforts as progress. We need to address the situation.”
McDermott added that the sliver lining in this bureaucratic cloud is the fantastic Principal and his outstanding staff who through their herculean efforts, despite the challenges, have led James Campbell High School to a Bronze Medal ranking in the US News and World Reports rankings of high schools for 2016. These school-level administrations make lemonade out of lemons everyday...spectacular achievement given the circumstances.
HNN: Lawsuit addresses overcrowding at Campbell High School