Kalihi charter school under investigation for questionable expenses

Halau Lokahi

A Kalihi public charter school that had been plagued with money problems could now find itself with legal problems.

Officers with the state attorney general’s office raided Halau Lokahi Tuesday armed with a search warrant.

KHON2 spoke with the charter school commission and was told there were some expenses from last school year that the commission found questionable, including money spent on acupuncture treatments and healing oils.

Officers with the attorney general’s office went to Halau Lokahi at about 8:30 a.m. and walked out shortly after with boxes of documents from the school’s offices. Other office supplies including a computer monitor were also confiscated.

The executive director of the charter school commission says after auditing the expenses from last year, when the school wound up more than $400,000 in debt, there were about $100,000 in undocumented expenses.

“There was a lot of travel to the Big Island, other travel expenses that it wasn’t clear what was the school purpose of the trip,” said Tom Hutton, the commission’s executive director.

Last year’s governing board was forced to resign so a new board took over this school year.

Hutton says he first asked the current board to look at the questionable expenses and says they weren’t able to justify them either.

“There were some things like for acupuncture services or for healing oils. Charter schools do a lot of non-traditional education so we just wanted to know how is this a school expense can that be explained,” Hutton said.

He says a total of $12,000 was spent on healing oils and acupuncture for the year.

With classes ongoing during the raid, one parent was unhappy with the timing.

“Kids were scared. Kids were running to the closest parent, giving hugs, trying to get understanding and it’s wrong. Kids fluttered, had to be shuffled around for almost an hour, it’s wrong,” said parent Jennifer Miller-Bautista.

The attorney general’s office did not comment because it’s an ongoing investigation.

School officials also declined to comment.

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