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KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOLS 2012. News, commentaries, and legal issues during 2012 related to attempts to desegregate Kamehameha schools and to identify the political influences wielded by this racially exclusionary institution (formerly Bishop Estate) worth $9-15 Billion.

On this webpage is a history of the controversy regarding Kamehameha Schools' racially exclusionary ("Hawaiian 'preference'") admissions policy, for the year 2012. But first:


For general background about the history of Kamehameha Schools and its racially exclusionary admissions policy, with links to webpages covering each year's history of efforts to desegregate the schools since 2002, including full text of all significant news reports and commentaries for each year, see:

There have been several lawsuits against Kamehameha Schools' admissions policy. The one that caused the greatest uproar and reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007, got started in 2003.

Following a series of protest marches by thousands of red-shirted supporters of racial segregaton, protesting the mere fact that such a lawsuit was being brought, Judge Alan Kay, in the U.S. District Court in Honolulu, issued a ruling on Monday November 16, 2003 upholding the schools' policy. That ruling was appealed to the 9th Circuit Court in San Francisco.

ORAL ARGUMENTS BEFORE THE THREE-JUDGE PANEL OF THE 9TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS WERE HELD ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2004. THE ORAL ARGUMENTS WERE TAPED, AND THE AUDIO FILE WAS LATER MADE AVAILABLE ON THE WEBSITE OF THE 9TH CIRCUIT COURT. Download is 8.52MB. Dialup internet users should think twice before trying to download such a large file.$file/04-15044.wma?openelement

On July 2, 2005 the three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Kay's decision by a 2-1 vote.


For analysis of the decision, see the webpage: Kamehameha 9th Circuit Decision: the "Big Picture" and Some Brush-Strokes (demolishing Hawai'i's wall of apartheid one brick at a time)

On August 6, 2005 there was a massive red-shirt protest march from the Royal Mausoleum ending with a rally of between 15,000 - 20,000 people at Iolani Palace. The rally included a pro-segregation speech by a red-shirted Governor Linda Lingle, to a crowd that included numerous anti-American signs. Smaller rallies took place on the neighbor islands. For news reports and photos, see:

On August 23, 2005 Kamehameha Schools filed a petition to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asking for an en-banc hearing in which perhaps as many as 23 judges would reconsider the 3-judge decision; and Hawaii Attorney general Mark Bennett filed papers supporting the petition.

On December 5, 2006 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its en-banc decision by a panel of 15 judges. They voted 8-7 to uphold Kamehameha's admissions policy. Here is the full text of the 110-page en-banc decision in pdf format directly from the 9th Circuit Court website. The first 53 pages are the majority ruling, and the last 57 pages are the minority dissents.$file/0415044.pdf?openelement

During 2007 plaintiff filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking a writ of certiorari whereby the Court would agree to hear the case. Each year there are thousands of cases appealed to the Supreme Court, but only about a hundred are actually taken up. During April 2007 there were three weeks when the case was on the docket for the weekly conference of the Justices to consider whether to grant certiorari (take the case), but no decision on certiorari was forthcoming. It turned out that a settlement was being worked on.

On Monday May 14, 2007 it was announced that a settlement had been reached, and the petition for certiorari was therefore dismissed by the Supreme Court by agreement between the parties. Terms of the settlement were never disclosed, although it was speculated that Kamehameha agreed to pay plaintiff's attorney fees and to provide a generous amount of money for the student (who had by now graduated from a different high school) to attend college.

During the summer of 2007 Honolulu Attorney David Rosen announced that he would be looking for plaintiffs to take up a similar lawsuit -- plaintiffs who would agree never to drop or settle the case until the Supreme Court made a decision. Rosen's theory was that such a lawsuit could work its way rapidly up to the Supreme Court since each court along the way had already ruled and could be expected to rule the same way again promptly. However, by the end of 2007 there were no announcements regarding any actual new plaintiffs.

During 2009 it was revealed that Kamehameha paid John Doe $7 Million to settle the desegregation lawsuit in 2006 moments before the Supreme Court would have granted certiorari to take up the case. Kamehameha's annual report said its assets were now worth $9.1 Billion. Attorneys Eric Grant and David Rosen filed a new desegregation lawsuit against Kamehameha, and Kamehameha filed a lawsuit for breach of the nondisclosure clause of the previous settlement. A court-appointed panel recommended doubling Kamehameha trustee salaries to about $200,000, bringing back memories of the million dollar salaries a few years previously. Kamehameha challenged the anonymity of the four plaintiffs in the new Grant/Rosen lawsuit, and Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled that the plaintiffs' names must be made public if they wish the case to go forward (plaintiffs are in fear of violence). Plaintiffs appealed Kurren's ruling to Kurren's boss District Judge J. Michael Seabright, who upheld the decision. Plaintiffs then appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had not yet reached a decision by the end of 2009.

On other issues during 2009: The trust fund lost 24% of its value in the financial market decline from June 2008 through June 2009; trustees gave themselves a 10% pay cut in 2009; the 384 page book "Wayfinding Through The Storm" by Gavan Daws and Na Leo o Kamehameha described an atmosphere of terrorism on campus during the scandals and power struggles of 10 years previously, based on 250 interviews with students, teachers, administrators, and politicians; Kamehameha Schools staff on Hawaii Island voted to be represented by a labor union; repeated sexual assaults on a girl boarding at the high school on the Kapalama campus were unreported to police until the girls' parents reported it, causing an uproar among parents and the public; a teacher was fired after it became public that he had previously been banned 17 years ago from teaching and ministry with minors by his religious order due to sexual misconduct in a Wisconsin school; Kamehameha gave grants totaling $7.2 Million to public charter schools

Quick summary of events in 2010: The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the validity of Kamehameha Schools' admissions policy filed in 2008 by four students. The students' parents demanded anonymity for fear of violence against the students, but the court ruled that there was no proof that violence was likely and public access to court proceedings outweighs fear of a mere possibility. However, dissenting Justices took note of "kill haole day" and other indications of danger. Developer Jeffrey R. Stone donated 300 acres of Makaha Valley land to anchor a Kamehameha Schools Learning Community and affordable housing for native Hawaiians. Although Kamehameha maintains a racially exclusionary admissions policy for its 3 main campuses, the new Learning Community will be open to all area residents. Kamehameha cut the salaries of its top executives because of the sharp economic downturn. Kamehameha Maui admitted a student with no native blood to the 10th grade in an ongoing effort to lay legal groundwork for future defense against claims it is racially exclusionary. Apparently a memoir and movie are under development about Kalani Rosell, who broke the color barrier at Kamehameha School.

Quick summary of events in 2011: In May the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a 3-judge 9th Circuit ruling that 4 plaintiff children must publicly disclose their names. Thus the racial discrimination lawsuit ends until new plaintiffs can be found whose parents are willing to subject their children and themselves to hate rhetoric and possible hate crimes. On an older Kamehameha case, where there was a settlement of $7 Million moments before U.S. Supreme Court might have agreed to hear the case, a judge agrees to allow mother and child Jane and John Doe to testify anonymously (by telephone) regarding Kamehameha lawsuit alleging breach of settlement confidentiality agreement, because they have justifiable fear of violence. In the end the Does agreed to pay Kamehameha one million dollars plus $400,000 in legal fees.


For general background about the history of Kamehameha Schools and its racially exclusionary admissions policy, with links to webpages covering each year's history of efforts to desegregate the schools since 2002, including full text of all significant news reports and commentaries for each year, see:


Honolulu Star-Advertiser, August 20, 2012

Campus welcomes new leader
Headmaster Earl Kim greets Kamehameha Schools students and urges mutual respect

By Mary Vorsino

The new headmaster of the Kamehameha Schools' Kapalama Campus says he wants to continue the work of his predecessor — longtime Kapalama President and Headmaster Michael J. Chun — in moving from "being a school for Native Hawaiians to being a Native Hawaiian school."

"We're not there yet," said Earl T. Kim, 49, former superintendent of the Montgomery, N.J., school district. "But it is an effort by an institution to understand its role in the larger Hawaiian community and its obligations to its students."

Kim also says one of his major goals is to improve the preparation of his graduates to ensure they don't just go to college, but also graduate with a degree. While the college-going rate of Kapalama graduates is high — about 96 percent — there are concerns that some don't make it to graduation.

Kim's first day on the job was July 2. On Friday he delivered his first convocation to the Kapalama student body, urging togetherness and mutual respect.

Gerry Johansen, interim executive director of Kamehameha Schools alumni relations and Ke Ali‘i Pau ahi Foundation, said Kim has impressed the community with his openness and educational knowledge. He has also been quickly learning Hawaiian culture and language, she said.

Kim delivered the welcome to his convocation in impeccable Hawaiian, Johansen said.

"I just sense, as our new headmaster he brings a wealth of educational value and a spirit of aloha," she said.

Kim takes the helm at Kapalama amid a $118 million renovation project aimed at updating classroom buildings, administrative space and athletic facilities.

Chun, his predecessor, led the Kapalama campus for 24 years before retiring this summer. He was beloved by many Kamehameha alumni, weathering some difficult years at school, including a turbulent period in the 1990s when former trustee Lokelani Lindsey tried to strip him of power. That led to an uprising on campus and the eventual removal of all five of the organization's trustees.

Also during his tenure, Kamehameha Schools saw several legal challenges because of its admissions policy, which favors students of Hawaiian ancestry.

About 3,200 students in kindergarten through 12th grade attend the 600-acre Kapalama Campus, the oldest and largest of Kamehameha's three campuses.

Nearly two months into his new position, Kim said he believes he has found the job he'll have until he retires. He also said he feels an incredible responsibility and "heavy burden" to carry out Princess Bernice Pau ahi Bishop's will, which established Kamehameha Schools.

"Once I accepted this position, I kind of saw it as the last employment I would have," he said. "This is where I was sent. I hope that some of the experiences I've had can help to achieve the goals and the visions that both Dr. Chun and Princess Pauahi had."

Kim said that part of being a Hawaiian school is incorporating Hawaiian knowledge and approaches into lessons, so he'll work to ensure that if, for example, there is a "particular Hawaiian way of taking multiple perspectives toward viewing a subject before coming to a conclusion," then that approach will be part of the curriculum.

He also said college completion rates, a nationwide concern, will be a focus of his administration.

Only about half of University of Hawaii students seeking a bachelor's degree graduate within six years. Among Native Hawaiian students, about 43 percent do.

Kamehameha does not have statistics on how many of its students complete college, but Kim said he expects those numbers will be available soon. He said boosting college preparation could mean addressing everything from scholastic concerns to financial and emotional issues.

"Our goal is to get all of our students ready for four-year college work and then to see them complete," Kim said.

Kim grew up in the islands, attending public schools before entering ‘Iolani School in the fifth grade. After graduating from ‘Iolani, he headed to Cornell University and received his degree in 1984. He then served a stint in the Marine Corps before seeking alternative teaching licensure in New Jersey.

Kim taught at Trenton Central High School, then spent several decades serving as a school administrator before being named Montgomery's superintendent in 2006. During his tenure at the largely affluent school district, which has about 5,300 students, he garnered accolades for taking a measured approach to problems and backing up his opinions with research and data.

He left the district in part because of disagreements about how public schools should be managed and funded. In early 2011 Kim angered some when he came out against a proposal that would have sent more money to wealthy schools at the expense of schools in low-income communities.

Some accused him of not standing up for his own students.

Before leaving New Jersey to take over the headmaster position at Kapalama, Kim told The Princeton Packet newspaper, "I didn't see myself working well in that environment. When the opportunity came up to not only serve a school population that wanted me there, but a school community that had a mission to really educate all students and had autonomy, it was impossible to say no."

Honolulu Star-Advertiser, November 15, 2012

Native Hawaiian attorney up for federal judge position

By Ken Kobayashi

A federal attorney who graduated from Kamehameha Schools and spent most of his legal career on the mainland before returning to Hawaii five years ago was nominated Wednesday by President Barack Obama as a U.S. district judge.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Assistant U.S. Attorney Derrick K. Watson would be the first federal judge with Hawaiian blood since U.S. District Judge Samuel King.

Watson has been with the U.S. attorney's office here since 2007 and has been the head of its civil division since 2009.

He would be Hawaii's fourth full-time judge and would fill the vacancy created when U.S. District Judge David Ezra became a senior federal judge in June.

Watson was among seven nominations to the federal district court bench announced by Obama.

Obama said the nominees have the "talent, expertise and fair-mindedness" for the positions and represent "my continued commitment to ensure that the judiciary resembles the nation it serves."

Watson was in Washington, D.C., and not available for comment.

The lifetime appointment carries a yearly salary of $174,000.

"He'll be an excellent judge," said U.S. Attorney Florence Nakakuni. "It's good for him, good for my office — he came out of my office — and good for the state of Hawaii. He's very well qualified."

Watson was among three names that U.S. Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka forwarded to the White House from a judicial selection commission they set up to screen applicants.

"Derrick Kahala Watson is a strong selection to serve as a United States District Court judge for the District of Hawaii," Inouye said.

U.S. Rep. Mazie Hirono, who was elected this month to succeed Akaka, said Watson would be the only Native Hawaiian federal judge.

"It is important to see that qualified individuals from diverse communities are able to serve our nation in a variety of ways," she said.

King served as a senior federal judge until his death in 2010.

Paul Alston, president of the Hawaii chapter of the Federal Bar Association, called the nomination a "terrific choice."

"It is great to see a local boy with roots deep in the community make good," he said.

Alston said those who know Watson are highly complimentary and the only criticism he's heard is that Watson just passed the Hawaii bar.

But Alston said passing the bar isn't required for Watson's job at the U.S. attorney's office.

"I don't view that as an impediment at all," he said.

Watson passed the July bar examination and will be a member of the bar once he pays his fees and gets sworn in, according to the Hawaii State Bar Association.

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association leaders also noted that Watson would be the only federal judge with Hawaiian blood.

"Mr. Watson's nomination demonstrates the continued commitment of the president to diversify our judiciary," said Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center.

A 1984 graduate of Kamehameha Schools, Watson attended Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

He worked for the San Francisco law firm of Landels, Ripley & Diamond from 1991 to 1995, served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California from 1995 to 2000, and worked at the San Francisco firm of Farella, Braun and Martel from 2000 to 2007.

He became a partner in 2003 at the Farella firm where he focused on product liability, toxic tort and environmental cost recovery cases, according to the White House.

The NAPABA said Watson was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve and served as a captain in the JAG Corps from 1998 to 2006. Watson's mother worked at a bank until she retired several years ago and his father retired from the Honolulu Police Department, according to the group.

The Hawaii Federal Judicial Selection Commission forwarded to the senators the names of Watson; Milton Yasunaga, a partner in the Honolulu law firm of Cades Schutte; and Andrew Winer, a Democratic strategist who advised Hirono's campaign.

"We did submit the names of three outstanding jurists from which Mr. Watson was selected," Inouye spokesman Peter Boylan said.


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