HONOLULU (AP) - The parents of a gifted 5-year-old child are moving to North Carolina and faulting the state for having too few resources for extraordinarily talented students in Hawaii public schools.
Robbie Bond's parents reluctantly sold their house on Oahu and now are looking for jobs in North Carolina so that their son can be enrolled in a school for gifted students, Hawaii News Now reported Friday.
Michelle Bond, the boy's mother, said her son tests above the 99th percentile in everything.
His parents noticed Robbie's extraordinary abilities from an early age, such as when they taught him baby sign language.
"By 6 months he was signing his first words and putting words together in phrases. Even if he did something bad, he would look straight up and start to sign, you know, 'Sorry.' And I knew that was unique to start that early," Michelle Bond said.
Her boy took just a few days to be potty trained, she said.
Michelle Bond has been in Hawaii for 18 years. Her husband, Robin Bond, was born and raised in Hawaii.
"Initially we were just told that he (Robbie) was exceptionally bright and that we were gonna find it challenging to find an education for him in Hawaii," Robin Bond said.
The couple researched public elementary schools in Hawaii. Michelle Bond said that when she called the schools she was told they do not have funding anymore for gifted and talented students.
The Department of Education says there is no funding for statewide gifted and talented initiatives and just one educational specialist for programs for gifted students.
The state does set aside $4.7 million for 5,210 gifted Hawaii students at individual public schools, through what's called a "weighted student formula" that lets the principals at each school spend that money. The state gives each public school $914 per gifted student, money that every principal decides how to use.
"Work with the principal to see what can be done at the school that your student attends," said Anna Viggiano, the educational specialist in charge of gifted and talented programs for the state of Hawaii Department of Education.
Viggiano said parents of gifted children can't totally depend on the school.
"There's a lot that Hawaii offers," Viggiano said. "Supplement their education by taking to them to the Bishop
Museum," the zoo, the aquarium and other locations that offer learning experiences, she said.
DOE officials said they have trained dozens of teachers through online courses the last two summers about how to identify gifted students and meet their needs.
Robbie, meanwhile, is settling in and undergoing tests at his new school, Camelot Academy, to help his new teachers develop a curriculum for him, they said.
Tuition of about $8,000 a year there is a relative bargain compared to private schools in Hawaii, which cost roughly three times that annually.