School safety concerns raised after boy goes missing

A 5-year-old boy’s disappearance from school is raising concerns about campus security.

Although he was found safe, many want to know why no one knew he was missing until his father came to pick him up.

As KHON2 first reported Tuesday, the autistic boy was somehow able to leave Kauluwela Elementary School in Liliha and end up in Waikiki. Honolulu police found him at a bus stop on Kuhio Avenue about an hour after he was reported missing. He was not hurt.

On Wednesday, parents and caretakers of children at Kauluwela Elementary School sat on benches and stood at the edge of the playground waiting for their youngsters to come out of the school.

“I’m kind of just observing the area and making sure about the surroundings here and with the kids being safe,” said Robert Kaneakua, parent.

The school’s principal says there was a health issue for one of the students in the missing boy’s class. Fire and EMS were called to the school. There was some chaos shortly before kids were let out.

“Because the incident did happen in that same classroom. So there was some movement of students to keep everybody safe during that time,” Kauluwela Elementary School Principal Clayton Kaniau said.

Shortly after that, teachers noticed the boy missing.

“Our teachers are very versed in safety and security. We have our practice drills, we’re looking at our procedures. Are there some things we might want to change or adjust so that all our kids are safe on campus?” Principal Kaniau said.

We are told faculty meetings will take place across the state to make sure safety and security procedures are followed.

“We’re really fortunate to have incredible staff who go through these security procedures. However, things do happen and we want to make sure if there’s any way that we can prevent it that we’re going to do that,” Department of Education Spokesperson Donalyn Dela Cruz said.

Ultimately, teachers are responsible for the children during school hours. Because of this story, those procedures will be reviewed.

But it takes a village and that’s where grandmas like Delcie Doctorello come into play.

“When they go down that side, we yell at them, ‘Get back over here’ and they come.  They listen. We’re the bodyguards for everybody’s children,” Doctorello said.

As a rule, there are no security officers stationed at elementary schools, only at secondary schools.

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