Incidents at the schools in recent days prompted school officials to be cautious.

Students, teachers and parents are planning to march outside of Waianae High School before classes start on Friday to raise awareness around community violence and gun safety in schools.

The demonstration follows a decision by Waianae and Castle High Schools to cancel Friday’s football game, apparently stemming from safety concerns. Recent posts on social media linked the cancellation to escalating tension between students at the two schools.

In a letter addressed to families on Monday, Waianae and Castle High principals did not say why they were cancelling Friday’s game but said safety was a priority.

“While we believe in the power of athletics to unite and inspire, we must prioritize the safety and well-being of our students, staff and families above all else,” the letter said.

Waianae High School building.
Last week, Waianae High School sent a letter to families regarding a potential threat the campus received. The high school has since made a joint decision with Castle High to cancel the football game scheduled for Friday. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2019)

On Thursday, Castle High went on a brief lockdown after school. The following day, Waianae High issued a letter to families alerting them of a potential campus threat that was under investigation by the Honolulu Police Department. 

“Our security team is on high alert, and we have implemented additional safety measures to reinforce the security of our campus,” Waianae High principal Ray Pikelny-Cook said in the letter.

A Friday announcement from Waianae Intermediate School reassured families that a social media post concerning the high school was deemed as not credible by the FBI. 

In an email statement, Superintendent Keith Hayashi said the Department of Education supports the decision of the two high schools.

“We are working closely with both schools to address the safety concerns,” Hayashi said. “Disclosing additional details could further compromise safety at this time.”

Social media was abuzz on Tuesday morning, with some parents supporting the game’s cancellation and citing concerns of escalating tension between students at the two schools. Others called for school leadership to reschedule Castle’s homecoming game or allow the students to play without spectators on Friday.

Rep. Cedric Gates said the schools took necessary action to ensure students and spectators’ safety. Gates, who represents Makua, Makaha and Waianae, added that he believes the recent events on the Waianae and Castle High School campuses were “definitely a factor” in the game’s cancellation.

“We’re a football community,” said Gates, adding that people from his office plan to attend Waianae High’s sign-waving event on Friday. “This really hurts in its own way, but we should use this time to reflect and figure out how we do better and move forward in a way that has aloha.”

The Legislature has discussed placing armed security guards on campuses in the past, especially following incidents of school shootings on the mainland, Gates said.

Now, he added, there may be a new “place and space to start discussions” around increasing security at schools on the Waianae Coast and beyond.

Civil Beat’s education reporting is supported by a grant from Chamberlin Family Philanthropy.

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