Hilo charter school’s ‘bucket chairs’ anger some parents

Some students at a Hilo charter school are using fishing buckets as chairs. One parent called Action Line to voice her frustration.

Shirleen Simons learned about the seating arrangements for the 4th and 5th grade classes at Ka Umeke Kaeo Charter School from her daughter.

“She sits on a white seven-gallon bucket with a black top,” Simons said. “I’ve never heard of that going on anywhere. We sit on chairs wherever we go.”

Simons says the bucket seat was causing her daughter to suffer.

“She was complaining her back was sore. The buckets were leaving marks on her hands from carrying the bucket along with school supplies in it,” she said.

Simons says she believes it affects her daughter’s ability to learn. “I have a letter from her pediatrician to back that up,” she said.

The school’s principal, Huihui Kanahele-Mossman, said it’s a safety issue with classroom overcrowding. The buckets double as seating and storage for supplies or ukana in Hawaiian.

“There is no room. They can’t safely move around within the classroom with full-sized chairs and tables with their ukana with them,” she said.

Kanahele-Mossman told KHON2 she received complaints from two other parents about the seating.

“I can empathize with the parents concerns, however, it’s not really a big deal to me. It’s either that or sitting on the floor is also an option and leaving backpacks outside,” she said.

The principal explains it’s a temporary issue that’ll be solved in a few years.

“As we speak, we did get an agreement that we’ve been working on for four years to lease property in Keaukaha to build a new school,” Kanahele-Mossman said.

“Are these reasons acceptable to you?” KHON2 asked Simons.

“No, because I don’t think there’s any reason you can logically give me that’s good enough to have any child sit on a bucket,” she said.

After Simons spoke up, the school bought her daughter, and any other parents who wanted one, a folding chair.

The most important thing, says Principal Kanahele-Mossman, is that the children can learn. “I feel it doesn’t impact learning,” she said.

Simons says her daughter still wants to attend the school.

The Charter School Commission told KHON2 it has no jurisdiction over schools’ furniture choices and this is not violating any rules.

This is the second year the school has used buckets for seats.

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