Hawai‘i Private Schools Offer Tuition-Free Education for Displaced Maui Students

Many independent schools across the state are taking in new students affected by the recent wildfires, with some waiving tuition for at least a year.


La Pietra Students Wear Pink

Students, faculty and staff members wear pink, Maui’s island color, as a symbol of aloha and support. Photo: Courtesy of La Pietra – Hawai‘i School for Girls


The Hawai‘i public school year began early this month, but approximately 3,000 students from Lahaina were suddenly displaced as the town burned on Aug. 8. King Kamehameha III Elementary School, with 638 students enrolled, suffered major structural damage. Some schools in the area have reopened, but Princess Nāhi‘ena‘ena Elementary, Lahaina Intermediate and Lahainaluna High remain closed until they can be declared safe, with students remaining in the area reassigned to Wailuku Elementary, Kamali‘i Elementary, Lokelani Intermediate and Kūlanihāko‘i High in Kīhei.


However, many families have relocated from Lahaina to elsewhere on Maui or off island. And others aren’t ready to return to school as their lives have been upended. The Department of Education is working hard to find out where thousands of its students who haven’t reenrolled in a public school have ended up.


For those who are ready to continue their education, another option has surfaced: Private schools across the state have agreed to take them in.


Maui Preparatory Academy has accepted about 120 students so far out of more than 1,000 inquiries, says Philip Bossert, executive director of the Hawai‘i Association of Independent Schools. Roots School has taken in two. On O‘ahu, La Pietra—Hawai‘i School for Girls, Assets School and St. Andrew’s Schools have all agreed to offer displaced students space in their classrooms.


At La Pietra, four displaced students from Maui have enrolled with another two on the way; head of school Jennifer Grems says the school can take up to 60 young women in grades 6–12. In addition to attending classes tuition-free, students will receive breakfast and lunch, school supplies, including laptops, as well as social-emotional support. “As families figure out the path ahead, we hope families with students in need of schooling will find this opportunity helpful,” she says.


La Pietra School Supplies For Maui Students

La Pietra students shop for school supplies for Maui students. Photo: Courtesy of La Pietra – Hawai‘i School for Girls


St. Andrew’s in Downtown Honolulu is also offering tuition assistance on a case-by-case basis, says head of school Ruth Fletcher, “prioritizing the extended ‘ohana or dear friends of current St. Andrew’s families who have been displaced by the fires and may be seeking help in this way. Although our efforts are humble, St. Andrew’s Schools is proud to stand alongside our colleagues in the community of independent schools on O‘ahu to do what we can for the courageous and resilient people of Maui.”


2024 Psg St Andrews Schools

St. Andrew’s Schools is one of the Hawai‘i private schools offering education and tuition assistance to displaced Maui students. Photo: Courtesy of St. Andrew’s Schools


For families looking to place their children in private schools either temporarily or permanently, the Find A School button on hais.us can help find what’s nearest them and inquire as to whether they’re accommodating students from Maui.


SEE ALSO: Latest on the Maui Wildfires