Select Page

Program Spotlight

Dr. Arnold Laanui leads a lab on forensics with students

May 2022

Academy of Professional & Public Services

School Name: Waipahu High School

City and State: Waipahu, Hawaii

What type of school is the program in? Career Academy

Pathway(s) Offered: Law Enforcement, Legal Services/Law, Forensics, exploring Fire


Students excavate a “grave”

Briefly describe your student demographics: The Academy of Law and Justice Administration is one of several academies at Waipahu High School. The campus services approximately 2,800 students and is the second largest high school in the State of Hawaii. Waipahu High School is also proud to be home to the first “wall-to-wall academy” in Hawaii with academies servicing, arts and communication, natural resources, health, industrial and engineering technologies, and professional and public services. Over 90% of the students are classified as Asian or Pacific Islanders.

Program leader: Dr. Arnold Laanui, former FBI

Program Teacher: Kelsy Kai-Yamamoto

Her Focus: Criminal Investigations I and II. Course focus on crime scene investigation and forensics. Pathway emphasis on crime scene investigations, forensic anthropology, pathology and medical examiners.

Program teacher: Ian Ferris

His Focus: Law, Public Safety and Criminology. Gateway instructor to careers in law to include judges, investigators, corrections, etc.

What is the most interesting thing about your program? Waipahu High School boast what is arguably the best field training exercise for students anywhere. This video explains why:

What is your biggest success? There are a lot of different ways to measure success. While we are indeed proud of how fast our program has grown and the partnerships we have been able to make with local law enforcement and early collaboration with the FBI, we are the most proud of the student who says, “I was thinking about pursuing a career in architecture, but now I think I want to pursue a career in law.” Launching careers and vocations are our biggest successes.

Dr. Arnold Laanui

What is your biggest challenge? The biggest challenge isn’t necessarily the one we all face – diminishing budgets. Right now I anticipate the biggest challenge will be the varying degrees of learning loss we face as a result of the COVID pandemic. I anticipate that for many years to come, we will be working with students who are underprepared for school. I think I speak for all academies when I say we have our work cut out for us.

What topic(s) has your school become “experts” in? I think we are pretty adept in two areas: designing meaningful project-based learning experiences and introducing students to forensics.

Who can other programs reach out to, to learn more about your program or expertise? Dr. Arnold Laanui

Do you mind sharing an email for that person? 

Maybe we can all do a “field trip” to visit someday!