Elementary school custodian loses job after sex assault charge

UPDATE: Prosecutors want to dismiss the charges against a former school custodian accused of sexually assaulting a boy at an Oahu campus.

The custodian charged with sexually assaulting a boy at an elementary school no longer works for the Department of Education.

James Holt will appear in court Thursday. The 53-year-old was charged with sex assault following an incident at Kanoelani Elementary School in Waipio.

The DOE said the arrest of Holt took place at Kanoelani Elementary last Wednesday, the investigation happened Thursday, and there was no school on Friday and Monday. That’s why parents were notified on Tuesday, nearly a week later. But parents we talked to, were not satisfied with that answer.

“I would want to know as soon as it happened,” a parent said.

“I wouldn’t want to put my child in danger and I’d definitely want to know as soon as possible,” another parent said.

“Parents’ worst fear right there, so I’d want to know right away,” said parent Ese Taliaoa.

They also wanted to know, “especially if he works at different places. You never know if it happened somewhere else and they didn’t say anything,” one parent said.

The DOE said in an e-mail that there were no other complaints against Holt, who worked for the DOE for 14 years.


But as a substitute custodian, where else did he work? Officials did not say.

KHON2 also wanted to know if Holt is still employed by the DOE and inquired three different times since Tuesday. Officials never answered.

So we went to the State Capitol to dig for answers.

“Because of what has happened, he is no longer going to be hired by the DOE. He is not currently employed by the DOE,” said Sen. Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Could DOE or school officials have improved communication with parents and not wait the whole weekend to notify them of the incident?

“I’m sure that’s something the department has to take a look at,” Tokuda said.

But, she said, first and foremost, the school must tend to the health and well-being of the child involved and notify police, which they did.

Tokuda also said Holt’s background check was cleared again just a few months ago.

She adds that if parents want more communication from their school, they should talk to their school officials.

Tokuda also said lawmakers and school officials are always looking at how to improve student safety.

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