Parents in Hawaii pushing boundaries of harassment in schools

Over a span of 13 years, 10 educators and staff members of public schools in Hawaii have requested restraining orders against a lone parent they accuse of persistent harassment and threats.

As documented in court records, the said parent referred to school personnel as a “pregnant dog in heat” and a “Fucken Micronesian Idiot,” informed a principal of hiring a private investigator to look into them, gestured shooting and throat-slitting motions at a teacher, unexpectedly joined an online class of their child and insulted the principal, and issued a threat to track down a Department of Education employee on a hiking trail to confront her and her family.

Despite the numerous restraining orders filed against the parent, very few have been granted. Police have faced challenges serving him legal papers for a court hearing, while judges and state officials have been cautious about potentially infringing on a parent’s right to engage in their children’s schooling.

Described as “a person with an aggressive demeanor who uses verbal aggression and profanity as tools to dominate and prevent civil dialogue” by James Halvorson, a supervising deputy attorney general, the parent’s behavior pattern presents challenges. Halvorson highlighted that the Hawaii Department of Education is obligated to maintain communication with the parent regarding their children’s education.

The parent, known as Jerome Costa, chose not to provide a statement for this article.

The ongoing 13-year struggle faced by the DOE in addressing Costa’s conduct underscores the delicate balance schools must maintain between safeguarding teachers and acknowledging parents’ involvement in their children’s education.

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