Maui News

Backers Protest Termination of Director at Horizons Academy

April 14, 2017, 5:18 PM HST
* Updated April 14, 5:26 PM
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Sign waving demonstration at Horizons Academy of Maui. 4.14.17. Images of individuals/clients in the background were blurred to protect their identities.

A sign waving protest was held at the Horizons Academy of Maui campus in Kīhei on Wednesday amid the termination of Beau Laughlin as executive director.  The private, non-profit school was founded in 1986 and is a special needs establishment for students in grades K-12.

Laughlin was hired by the board in September of 2011, but was terminated on Tuesday after nearly six years as executive director.  The reasons for his departure were not disclosed by the board, prompting concern among protesters who tell Maui Now that teachers and students should have been notified and given an explanation.

Demonstrators spoke highly of Laughlin saying he does a lot for the school out of his own pocket and in his spare time.  “He’s compassionate. He’s loving. He’s a great team leader… He has brought Horizons back up from the ground since he started working here. He has made it what it is today. We have gained more clientele with him here,” one demonstrator, who remains anonymous said.

In an email communication with Laughlin on Wednesday evening, he said, “I am proud of all the staff at Horizons Academy and all we accomplished together in my almost six year tenure. I encourage any one interested to do their own research on conflicts of interest and dualistic relationships.”

Joseph D’Alessandro, a member of the Board of Directors responded to our request for comment in an email communication on behalf of the board, saying, “There are always at least two sides to every story. It is important to note that only a very small number of employees are directly involved in the actual issues at hand. Also note that although others may say what they like, the law does not allow Horizons Academy to make public statements on private personnel matters.”

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The communication, sent by D’Alessandro on behalf of the Board of Directors also stated, “We can say that we will be setting up meetings with interested parties to  heal this breach as soon as we get a ruling from our counsel on what and how much we can divulge without compromising people’s privacy. Please be assured that we are doing all we can to fulfill the school’s mission of providing the highest level of service to our clients and families. Thank you for your understanding as we move through this private personnel issue.”

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According to the school’s Facebook page, the organization’s mission is: “Empowering, challenging and supporting our students to achieve educational, life, social, and vocational goals towards becoming an active and productive member of their community. Relying on the principles of applied behavior analysis and data based decision making.”

The site further explains that Horizons is the only private, non-profit school on Maui that utilizes and implements classroom curriculum based on the principles of applied behavior analysis.

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