Kamehameha School To Start Desegregating July 2002 ? First Steps Toward Desegregation 2001-2002.

Copyright 2002 - 2006 (c) Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved

During the years 2001 to 2002 Kamehameha Schools' racially exclusionary policy has come under increased scrutiny by civil rights activists and by the U.S. government. The school seems to be slowly moving toward desegregation. A bright future is possible. See the concluding paragraph at the end of this page.

A major event occurred on July 11, 2002 when Kamehameha School announced that one teenager with no Hawaiian blood has been offered admission to the 8th grade at the rapidly expanding Maui satellite campus. After 4 decades of total racial exclusion, Kamehameha School has finally admitted one student who has no ethnic Hawaiian blood. But there is still a 100% racial preference for ethnic Hawaiians, since all qualified applicants of the favored race will be admitted before any other qualified applicants.

The new policy of token desegregation is primarily intended at this time to turn aside increasing scrutiny from civil rights activists and to protect the multibillion dollar charitable trust's tax exempt status. But is the new policy a first hesitant step toward genuine desegregation? Are the trustees taking this small step to help Native Hawaiians gradually come to grips with an inevitable, eventual race-neutral admissions policy? Or are the trustees engaged in mere tokenism as a strategy of delay and obfuscation, fighting house-to-house against an invading army of outsiders, making a strategic retreat when necessary? Only time will tell.

The July 11 announcement caused a great outcry from many Native Hawaiians who believe the school should remain racially exclusionary. In terms of social consequences and emotional upheaval, the situation is somewhat analogous to what happened in the southern United States following the Supreme Court school desegragation decision of 1954. In one state a governor stood in the school house door to prevent Negroes from entering. In another state, the governor called out the national guard to prevent integration and the Guard was then federalized by President Eisenhower to enforce desegregation. In Mississippi in 1962, Negro student James Meredith was finally admitted to the University of Mississippi after a century-long racially exclusionary admission policy came to an end under court order. Students, parents, alumni, and friends of the all-white university felt betrayed, bitter, and angry that their wonderful, exclusive school was about to be desegregated. Riots left two people dead.

Fortunately, in Hawai'i in 2002, officials of Kamehameha School seem to realize that desegregation is inevitable, and are trying to slowly change school policy while calming some bewildered and outraged Hawaiians. Some of that confusion and anger is the fault of Kamehameha School officials and supporters. They have adamantly maintained for many decades that the will of Princess Pauahi requires that only ethnic Hawaiians can be admitted. But as shown elsewhere on this website, the plain language of her written will says no such thing. School administrators and supporters who knew the truth all along must bear substantial blame for the inflamed passions of the moment.

Despite the unbending claim that Pauahi's will requires that only Hawaiians can be admitted, now suddenly in July 2002 a non-Hawaiian student is to be admitted to the 8th grade. School administrators and trustees are clearly making this move to protect the school from civil rights attacks. But in justifying the admission of a non-Hawaiian, school officials want to avoid looking like they are caving in to public pressure and legal challenges. Having solidified the Hawaiian community for many decades behind their false claim that racial exclusion is required by Pauahi's will, now they must defuse the anger of their supporters when they change the policy. So they offer two explanations:

(1) Kamehameha School officials now say that once upon a time, long ago, Kamehameha School did actuallly admit a few non-Hawaiians. It had long been a carefully hidden secret that in earlier decades some non-Hawaiians had been admitted to Kamehameha -- most of the interlopers were the children of non-Hawaiians who had teaching jobs at the school. Perhaps some defenders of the absolute racially exclusionary admission policy of recent decades didn't know about the previous exceptions. Those who did know about them kept quiet about it, so as not to undermine the dogma that Pauahi's will required absolute racial exclusion. But now the school officials want to make it appear the new desegragation is not completely new, so they bring the secret out into the open.

(2) Kamehameha officials now say the policy of the school has always been not to totally exclude non-Hawaiians, but merely to give a racial preference to admit all academically qualified Hawaiians before admitting any qualified non-Hawaiians, and there just happens to be one extra space available at this time due to expansion of the satellite campus on Maui. Thus the great demand by Hawaiians wanting to be admitted has always stopped school officials from admitting any non-Hawaiians; but now there just happens to be one extra space available (and no academically qualified ethnic Hawaiian students to fill it?). The officials point to the one passage in Pauahi's will where it says "...giving the preference to Hawaiians of pure or part aboriginal blood..." But of course they do not mention that this racial preference as stated in the will is specifically only for children who are orphans or indigents and has nothing to do with any preference for that vast majority of the students who are neither orphans nor indigents. Nevertheless, the new policy of admitting a non-Hawaiian is portrayed as no real change, because they say the policy has always been merely a preference and not an absolute exclusion. Now an extra space is available, so a non-Hawaiian can be allowed to fill it. But outraged Hawaiians say there are plenty of academically qualified Hawaiians; and even if there weren't, it would then be the job of Kamehameha School to give whatever help is needed to Hawaiians to raise them up until their qualifications are high enough to be admitted.

The new policy as announced by Kamehameha School's CEO Hamilton McCubbin is as follows (as excerpted from a Honolulu Advertiser article of July 12, 2002, available below): McCubbin said the Kamehameha Schools select only applicants who demonstrate a potential for success in a rigorous program. Kamehameha Schools gives preference in admissions to Hawaiians, but when all the accepted applicants of Hawaiian ancestry meeting the admissions criteria have been exhausted, qualified non-Hawaiian applicants may be considered for admittance on a space-available basis. "Each year ... (Kamehameha) has had more Hawaiian applicants who meet the criteria for the K-12 campus programs than there were spaces available," McCubbin said. "This year that was not the case on the Maui campus, where available spaces doubled in all grades, K-9. After admitting all of the Hawaiian applicants who met the criteria, there was a space available, and admission was offered to a non-Hawaiian applicant." Kamehameha Schools gives preference in admissions to Hawaiians "to the extent permitted by law and the rules governing tax-exempt organizations,'' he said.

Let's be clear what is going on. Kamehameha School has come to understand that its decades-long policy of absolute racial exclusion is doomed. The IRS, especially under a Republican administration, will not continue granting the status of a tax-exempt charitable foundation to a racially exclusionary institution. Kamehameha School has previously considered whether to give up the admission policy or the tax exempt status in case of a conflict, and had decided to preserve the exclusionary admission policy even if it meant no more tax exemption. But the racially exclusionary policy now also threatens the very existence of the school, because racially exclusionary institutions are unconstitutional even if they are private and do not have any tax exemption.

The new policy may not be totally exclusionary, but comes as close as possible to that "ideal." Just one non-Hawaiian is to be admitted in 2002. No more than a handful will probably ever be admitted. The stated policy is that every academically qualified Hawaiian will be admitted before any qualified non-Hawaiian is admitted; and it is clearly understood that there will almost always be a far greater number of Hawaiians seeking admission than there are spaces available.

Kamehameha School at the moment despreately wants to remain as racially exclusionary as possible. Its new strategy will be to give the legal appearance of having only a racial preference while at the same time maintaining a policy that for all practical purposes is still exclusionary. The new policy is well known among civil rights activists. It is called tokenism.

Racial and gender tokenism was a successful strategy for many decades in universities, schools, neighborhoods, and businesses. Just let in a few of the "wrong" people to make it look OK, and assign them to positions where they had no significant presence or power. But in the end such tokenism didn't fool anybody, least of all government officials charged with enforcing civil rights laws.

So long as students applying for admission are asked what race they are, and are given a 100% preference when they can prove they have Hawaiian blood, the admission policy is illegal. Even fairly mild racial preferences in college admissions are coming under legal attack. Admissions policies which provide only a 10% or 20% advantage to under-represented minorities are being challenged; there is no way that a 100% preference can survive (all minimally qualified Hawaiians to be admitted before any non-Hawaiians no matter how well qualified)

Following are excerpts from the Honolulu Advertiser article of July 12, 2002 describing the decision to admit one non-Hawaiian student to the Kamehameha School Maui satellite campus. Afterward are some of the events leading up to the July 11, 2002 announcement that shocked the Native Hawaiian community. First, some forced withdrawals by Kamehameha School from longstanding programs as a result of government scrutiny, depriving the school of income and influence and leading it to reassess its policy. Then some cooperative programs with the public schools, allowing Kamehameha to reach out to more Hawaiians and increase its influence in the wider community, even at the expense of spending some money on non-Hawaiians. Historically this may turn out to have been a carrot (cooperative programs) and stick (forced withdrawal) approach to desegregation. At the end of this page is an upbeat expression of hope for the future.



A non-Hawaiian applicant has been offered admission to a Kamehameha Schools campus for the first time since 1962. Until 1962, Kamehameha Schools allowed admission to non-Hawaiian students who were children of faculty members, and there were non-Hawaiian students attending as early as the 1920s and earlier.

The offer to a student to attend the Maui campus in the 2002-03 school year does not reflect a change in Kamehameha Schools admissions policy, Hamilton McCubbin, chief executive officer of Kamehameha Schools, said yesterday. The school, he said, gives preference to Hawaiians, but that when all the accepted applicants of Hawaiian ancestry meeting the admissions criteria have been exhausted, qualified non-Hawaiian applicants may be considered for admittance on a space-available basis. McCubbin said the Kamehameha Schools selects only applicants who demonstrate a potential for success in a rigorous program. Kamehameha Schools gives preference in admissions to Hawaiians "to the extent permitted by law and the rules governing tax-exempt organizations,'' he said.

The decision touched off a flurry of mixed reaction last night.

The admission of a non-Hawaiian to the schools is "a momentous, monumental move," and one which will generate "probably a mixture of feelings from Hawaiians, ranging from disagreement to agreement and everything in between," said Haunani Apoliona, a trustee of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Some may see it as an opening of floodgates to non-Hawaiian children just because they may perform better on admissions tests than Hawaiians, and others may see it as a prudent, cautious step to prevent legal action to overturn the admissions policy or take away the schools' tax-exempt status, she said. Apoliona said she was sure the trustees took what they felt was the most prudent step. But if the schools couldn't find enough qualified Hawaiians to fill their new campus, she said, perhaps they should re-examine where they are putting new campuses.

Former trustee Oswald Stender was critical of the move and said he was hearing complaints from alumni and parents whose children of Hawaiian ancestry have been denied admission. Stender, now a trustee for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and one of the leaders of the reform that led to the ouster of four of his fellow Bishop Estate trustees in 1999 and his own resignation, said he could not believe "that they could not find another Hawaiian who could be admitted to the new campus. I have two nieces on Maui who just got turned down for admission to that campus — how can they say qualified applicants of Hawaiian ancestry have been exhausted?" he said. Stender said he had had "a flood of calls" from parents and alumni within minutes of the news being broadcast yesterday. "Alumni are very upset — these are people whose own children couldn't get into Kamehameha because they turned them down." Stender said the move raises fundamental questions about the schools' academic criteria for admissions.

But the news was welcomed by Hawai'i residents who have fought against special preference for Hawaiians in government and tax-supported or tax-exempted institutions.

Freddy Rice, the Big Island rancher whose landmark lawsuit led to a U. S. Supreme Court decision overturning the Hawaiians-only voting in Office of Hawaiian Affairs elections, said the admission of a non-Hawaiian to Kamehameha Schools is a "good development." But the "major breakthrough" at the schools came several months ago, Rice said, when trustees indicated they were prepared to help pay for public charter schools in predominantly Hawaiian areas even if those schools are also attended by non-Hawaiians.

Kamehameha Schools, a multibillion-dollar charitable trust formerly known as Bishop Estate and Hawai'i's largest private landowner, was established by the 1884 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The trust was swept up in bitter controversy that erupted in 1997 after a protest march by students, parents and alumni over how the schools were being managed. Investigations were conducted by the state attorney general's office and Internal Revenue Service, and the trustees were ultimately replaced.


** Note from Ken Conklin: It is a great honor for a high school student, and for the school he attends, to win recognition as a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. Selection is based on a combination of scores on standardized tests, course grades, and teacher recommendations. Semi-finalist standing is based entirely on merit; selection as a final recipient of a scholarship is based on financial need. In September 2006 it was announced that KALANI ROSELL, A STUDENT AT KAMEHAMEHA SCHOOL MAUI CAMPUS, WAS AWARDED NATIONAL MERIT SEMIFINALIST STATUS -- the only student at his school to win that distinction. Congratulations to Kalani Rosell, civil rights freedom-fighter, whose intelligence and hard work have enabled him to persist and to excel at the school where racists staged protests against his admission and made every effort to keep him out.

The news report listing all 73 students in Hawai'i who won National Merit semifinalist status shows that almost all are attending private schools, and 2/3 are attending the prestigious 'Iolani and Punahou schools. Here is the news report:
Honolulu Advertiser, Thursday, September 14, 2006

73 from Islands are semifinalists for National Merit Scholarships

Seventy-three students from Hawai'i have been named semifinalists in the 2007 National Merit Scholarship program.

The students are among about 16,000 nationwide who will compete for 8,200 Merit Scholarship awards worth $33 million. The students were selected based on their scores on the 2005 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

To be considered for a Merit Scholarship, semifinalists must meet certain criteria, including producing an outstanding high school academic record, a recommendation from the principal, qualifying SAT scores, and a detailed application from the semifinalist and a school official.

The nationwide semifinalists represent less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors.

The Merit Scholarship winners of 2007 will be announced from April through July.

The semifinalists, as reported by the National Merit Scholarship program:


Hilo High: James M. Bishop
Waiakea High: Sara K. Dale
Hawai'i Preparatory Academy: Graham E. Johnson.
Kamehameha Schools (Kea'au): Lauren A. Carvalho
Konawaena High: Kim M. Nichols.


King Kekaulike High: Ian Y. Dela Cruz.
Seabury Hall: Marlise A. Armstrong, Mirabel A. Bradley, Anna A. Clark.

Kamehameha Schools: Kalani K. Rosell.

Home school: Sara A. Reiley.


Hawaii Baptist Academy: Jesslyn O. Cheong, Daniel W. Cosson, Bethany A. Rawlings

Iolani School: Lori C. Arakaki, Joshua D. Busse, Ruth Chen, Alexander K. Chun, Dianna Dai, Noah K. Goshi, Kelsi K. Hirai, Xiaolong Hou, Chau B. Huynh, Marisa L. Ideta, Lucy X. Liu, Daniel J. Lum, Sarah K. Matsui, Sean T. Matsuwaka, Taryn R. Nakamura, Jennifer N. Nishioka, Roydan N. Ongie, Kevin R. Otsuka, Yoichi Sagawa, David H. Saito, Shawn E. Tokairin, Sara S. Tsukamoto, Michael Uyemura, Kon L. Weber, Andrea S. Wong, David R. Yamashiro, Nathan C. Yang, Tianzan Zhou.

Kalani High: Tony Fujii, Taoran Li.
Kamehameha Schools (Kapalama): Lara A. Evensen, Matthew Mariconda.
McKinley High: Yeeting Lee, Elyse W. Takashige.

Punahou School: Traci Aoki, Patricia Boxold, Monica Burns, Alexandra Galati, Peter K. Gottlieb, Lisa A. Gulmon, Kimberly E. Hall, Max A. Halvorson, Chloe S. Hartwell, Scott L. Hong, Brett K. Kan, Liana T. Kobayashi, Jennifer I. Lai, Ingrid S. Lao, Erica M. Mau, Zoe S. Morrison, Martine J. Seiden, Henry A. Thornhill, Sara H. Timtim, Mari N. Turk, Christina M. Wong.

Sacred Hearts Academy: Virginia J. Lenander, Cara M. Smith.
St. Andrew's Priory: Sarah A. Swanson.
Saint Louis School: Matthew D. Choy.



(1) U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, received a complaint of racial discrimination against Kamehameha School. On May 25, 2001 the administration of Kamehameha School announced to the alumni that a charge of racial discrimination had been filed against the school. Here is the announcement:

US DOE Office of Civil Rights Receives Discrimination Complaint Against Kamehameha Schools

On Monday, May 21, 2001, Kamehameha Schools received notification of a complaint of discrimination that has been filed with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR), Western Region. The complaint alleges that KS discriminates against non-Hawaiians on the basis of race in our admissions policy, specifically under Title VI, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance from the U.S. DOE.

KS legal counsel, in consultation with external legal counsel, is addressing this issue. We will keep you informed as this matter progresses.

Kamehameha Schools


(2) Kamehameha School withdraws from U.S. Department of Education funding of grant programs administered by the school.

On September 8, 2001 the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported that Kamehameha School has decided to give up $3 Million in current funding, and all future funding, from the U.S. Department of Education. Although it is withdrawing itself from such grant programs, the school will nevertheless work with other racially-restricted local institutions to steer federal grants to them. and to provide them with expertise in seeking and utilizing such grants. Clearly, Kamehameha School decided it does not want to subject itself to scrutiny regarding its racially discriminatory admissions policy. It probably fears that such scrutiny by the Department of Edcation Office of Civil Rights might cause the IRS to re-evaluate the school's tax-exempt policy; or might even result in the admissions policy being declared illegal. The school will now work behind the scenes, while hiding from direct scrutiny. Here are excerpts from the Star-Bulletin article: http://starbulletin.com/2001/09/08/news/story3.html

Kamehameha Schools is giving up almost $3 million in federal funding used to provide scholarships and other programs to its native Hawaiian beneficiaries. The estate said it plans to help community organizations and agencies that serve Hawaiians compete to take over the federally funded programs. While estate officials say supporting these agencies is the primary motivation for giving up the federal grants, possible challenges to the school's Hawaiians-only admission policy also factored into the decision.

Kamehameha Schools spokesman Kekoa Paulsen said one of the U.S. Department of Education programs has complained about the race-based admissions policy, but Kamehameha was not given details of the complaint. However, Hamilton McCubbin, Kamehameha Schools chief executive officer, said the decision to reject the federal funds was not defensive. "The thought that we've had for a while was that we need to do what we can to strengthen partnerships in the community or help them get established so that a broader base of support is built up, all of them hopefully aimed at developing the well-being of native Hawaiians," he said. Paulsen said that while Kamehameha cannot designate which agencies will assume the grants, the school will lend its expertise to help them compete for the grants. Kamehameha Schools executives said the estate expects to improve the delivery of educational services to native Hawaiians by sharing its knowledge in delivering proven programs, and looking for innovative ways to reach out to a wider population.


(3) Kamehameha School Withdraws from Army Junior ROTC after 86 years

Here are excerpts from 2 articles on this topic: January 18, 2002 when the withdrawal was announced, and May 3, 2002 when it was about to be be implemented:


Kamehameha Schools will close its Army Junior ROTC program June 30 to protect the schools' Hawaiian-preference admissions policy from legal challenge. It is the latest federally supported program the schools' trustees have relinquished to avoid challenges to their requirement that school applicants have Hawaiian blood. Schools spokesman Kekoa Paulsen said the decision was "made after extensive deliberation, in alignment with the trustees' policy to uphold and protect ... the trustees' admission policy." The decision comes at a time when programs limited to persons of Hawaiian ancestry have drawn increased interest from the courts, especially after the U. S. Supreme Court agreed in 2000 with Big Island rancher Harold "Freddy" Rice's complaint that elections for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs should be open to all Hawai'i voters, not just [racial] Hawaiians. Schools chief Hamilton McCubbin announced the JROTC decision at a campus meeting last week after trustees explored a last-ditch effort to save the program by paying for it entirely with the schools' own money. Trustees have already given up federal money for lunch programs, scholarships, college counseling sessions and a drug awareness and education program. The schools had been receiving between $2.2 million and $2.5 million a year from federal sources, Paulsen said. U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye in September asked Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shintaki to consider allowing Kamehameha to continue in the JROTC program but assume all costs. "The United States Army has been an integral part of the (Kamehameha Schools) campus since 1888," he said. But the office of the JROTC directorate in Fort Monroe, Va., said yesterday that military lawyers believe that the law does not allow the Army to enter into any contract with an organization that discriminates on the basis of race, whether money is involved or not. The program started at Kamehameha Schools in 1916. Today, it has 450 cadets and six instructors and is mandatory for boys in the 9th and 10th grades. The end of JROTC was a shock to many. "It's totally surprising," said Pohai Ryan, an O'ahu alumni chapter board member. "It would be sad to dismantle a program which has a long history at Kamehameha and has produced a lot of generals, including trustees chairman Adm. (Robert) Kihune, and retired National Guard Gen. Ed Richardson."


There will be one last parade for Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets Thursday at Kapalama Heights, as Kamehameha Schools prepares to shut down its JROTC program for good. The schools notified the state Department of Labor Wednesday that they will "separate" six people from employment with the schools in connection with the closing of the program. Schools spokesman Kekoa Paulsen said no decision had been made on what will replace JROTC classes in the curriculum, but added that the schools hope to provide classes involving similar character building, leadership and discipline but not on the military model. The decision was made as part of an effort to protect the private schools' Hawaiian-preference admissions policy from legal challenge. It is the latest federally supported program to be relinquished by the schools' trustees to avoid challenges to their requirement that school applicants have Hawaiian blood. Paulsen said the decision was "made after extensive deliberation, in alignment with the trustees' policy to uphold and protect ... the trustees' admission policy." Schools chief Hamilton McCubbin announced the JROTC decision at a campus meeting in January after trustees explored a last-ditch effort to save the program by paying for it entirely with the schools' own money. ROTC stands for Reserve Officer Training Corps at the college level. The junior program operates at the high school level. Paulsen said the schools had "explored other options," including a National Defense Cadet Corps, but found it would have "the same exposure to potential liability."



During the 1990s Kamehameha had an outreach arrangement with some public schools to provide Hawaiian culture and language enrichment programs, and special tutoring in regular subjects, in geographic areas where most children are Native Hawaiian. Public schools are not allowed to engage in racial discrimination. Thus, such programs would have to be open to all children regardless of race. But even though a few non-Hawaiian children would unavoidably benefit from such programs, Kamehameha was happy to provide the programs because the student population was overwhelmingly Hawaiian. Later in the 1990s Kamehameha pulled out of those outreach programs with the public schools when Bishop Estate Trustee Lokelani Lindsey, who was the trustee primarily overseeing the educational policy, made a judgment that budget shortfalls required the cutback. The outreach programs were a small window of desegregation, in the sense that Kamehameha trust funds were being spent to partially educate a few non-Hawaiians. But such programs still did not violate the racially exclusionary admissions policy for the actual admission of students at the main campus or its satellite schools, and most of the education of each enrichment student was still being provided by the public school system. Following the mass expulsion of the scandal-ridden Bishop Estate trustees, the new trustees slowly began reinstating some of the outreach programs.

More recently Kamehameha School has announced that it intends to take over management of some public charter schools in areas of heavy Native Hawaiian population, in return for partially financing the operation of those schools. These will be "conversion" charter schools; i.e., schools which the taxpayers have already built and are already operating, but which Kamehameha School will be allowed to run in return for paying perhaps 20% of current operating expenses. Thus Kamehameha School gets to teach its own curriculum and adopt its own teaching methods and control the staff, while the taxpayers get assurances that the children are receiving an education which will meet (virtually meaningless) state standards. The existence of state-operated Hawaiian language immersion schools, and public Hawaiian culture immersion charter schools, is a complicating factor and it is unclear whether Kamehameha School will take over operation of any such immersion schools. For more information on Hawaiian language and culture immersion schools, see:

Here are excerpts from three newspaper articles tracing the development of Kamehameha School’s future partnership with public charter schools:


Kamehameha Schools yesterday announced an ambitious plan to spend more than $50 million to reach more than 46,000 students in various programs. Under the plan, Kamehameha Schools would continue to run its private school campuses and preschools across the state, make scholarships available to Hawaiian children to attend other preschools, infuse more money into public schools in communities with a high concentration of Hawaiian children and reach out to more special needs children. "The trustees are saying we're missing a lot of kids. We've taken the best and the brightest but what about everybody else," said Hamilton McCubbin, Kamehameha Schools' chief executive officer. About 1,057 students are enrolled in Kamehameha preschools and 3,500 at its kindergarten-through-12th grade private school campuses on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. Another 15,000 students are in career education and community extension education programs. The first major component would make scholarships available for 10,000 more students to attend accredited preschools other than those run by Kamehameha. Certain incentives would be provided for these schools to improve their facilities and help with accreditation. The second major component would be to funnel more money into the public schools, an effort to reach more special needs children. "We have many kids within the (Department of Education System) that need some support as well and that's where most of the Hawaiians are," McCubbin said. "The question is: How do we reach them?" Kamehameha plans to create a nonprofit entity that would be driven by the community, with a Kamehameha presence on its board to oversee funding. The state Department of Education would provide the school facilities, faculty and staff and operating budget and Kamehameha would match the school operating budget dollar for dollar. Because a public school is involved, students of all ethnic backgrounds would be able to attend. The plan would require approval from the probate court and the Internal Revenue Service, as well as a change in legislation to allow it to function within the public school system. Sen. Norman Sakamoto, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said details on legislation have not been worked out yet, but the concept would be similar to the charter school process.


Hawaii's charter school movement, which has been plagued with funding and personnel issues, may benefit now that Kamehameha Schools wants to step into the fray, observers said yesterday. The high-profile trust wants to partner with the state in educating students from kindergarten through 12th grade as a way to reach more native Hawaiian children. The House Education Committee yesterday heard testimony on House Bill 2014, which would allow nonprofit organizations to manage and operate a new century conversion charter school. The charter school's local school board would consist of the nonprofit's board of directors. Many of those testifying supported the idea, but some of them expressed reservations -- particularly leaders of existing charter schools, who said existing problems have not been addressed. "I sincerely appreciate Kamehameha reaching out to more students to expand their reach to Hawaiian students," said Ku Kahakalau, director of Kanu o ka Aina charter school in Waimea. "That's something we 100 percent support." But she added that there are "major issues in existing charter school law that are preventing a very good law (from being) implemented." Leaving the hearing, however, she said Kamehameha Schools may help the charter school movement. "Kamehameha Schools coming into it may push the issue more to the forefront because it's obviously very different when you're dealing with Kamehameha Schools versus when you're dealing with a few grass-roots communities," said Kahakalau. Hawaii's charter schools are publicly funded and are free from most laws and regulations except collective bargaining, health and safety, discrimination and federal policies. Schools are held accountable for student performance and funding through a contract, or charter, with the state. Hamilton McCubbin, Kamehameha Schools chief executive officer, said if the bill passed during the current legislative session, the nonprofit would likely be able to begin its new role starting in August 2003. McCubbin told the House Education Committee yesterday that Kamehameha Schools would help to establish a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization to manage and operate the charter schools. The Hawaii Business Roundtable, the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools and The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii all support the idea. The Hawaii Government Employees Association and the Hawaii State Teachers Association both opposed the bill. In written testimony Randy Perreira, HGEA deputy executive director, said, among other things, the bill "does not clearly articulate the intended impact on current employees of the school." Karen Ginoza, HSTA president, echoed others' concerns about lack of funding for current charter schools.


The state Legislature has voted to allow Kamehameha Schools to become a partner with selected state charter schools so it can help more native Hawaiian children. In return, these charter schools get more funding at no extra cost to the state. That's because these nonprofit groups must make matching contributions to the school's operations. "This concept of collaboration with nonprofits presents us with a fresh opportunity to try something fundamentally daring and progressive," House Education Chairman Ken Ito (D, Kaneohe) said of Senate Bill 2662, Senate Draft 2. The House approved the Senate bill without any amendments to it yesterday, sending the bill to Gov. Ben Cayetano for consideration. As proposed, the bill amends the state's current charter school legislation to include a new section that allows nonprofit organizations to operate and manage an existing public school under what is called a new century conversion charter school. Hawaii charter schools receive public funds but are free from most laws and regulations except for collective bargaining, health and safety, discrimination and federal policies. Each charter school is run by a local board that is held accountable for student performance and funding through a contract or charter with the state. "This bill will help to extend the legacy of our founder, Bernice Pauahi Bishop, to the many Hawaiian children in public schools through Hawaii," McCubbin said in a statement yesterday. If approved by the governor, the program will be implemented over the next five years and will have a lasting and positive impact on thousands of Hawaiian children and their families, he said. Ito told colleagues yesterday the bill has many safeguards to prevent these schools from becoming just a private program for Hawaiian children. For example, the new law requires nonprofits to match $1 per pupil toward school operations for every $4 allocated by the state Department of Education. Also, Board of Education approval will depend on whether there is majority support from the school's administrative, support and teaching staff, as well as from affected parents. "We, as legislators, have made every effort to ensure that these conversion charter schools do not transform into privatized educational programs," Ito said. Even so, the Hawaii Government Employees Association and the Hawaii State Teachers Association have opposed the measure. The public worker unions are worried about the impact on school employees and the lack of funding for current charter schools.


CONCLUSION IN 2002: A POSITIVE OUTLOOK (Unfortunately, read further for big disappointment in 2003)

Every private school has a unique character. Students, parents and alumni strongly support and identify with what makes a school unique. Kamehameha clearly belongs in the pantheon of distinguished Hawai'i private schools including Punahou, 'Iolani, Damien, St. Louis, and others. All these college preparatory schools have selective admissions policies to support high academic standards. What makes Kamehameha unique is its focus on Hawaiian culture. No other school in the world has anything comparable to the annual Song Contest. No other school has the same perspective on Hawaiian history, or the focus on Hawaiian language, or the strong working relationships with activities like voyaging canoes, taro patches, and restoration of heiau, fishponds, and ahupua'a. With that sort of cultural focus, Kamehameha Schools will always attract more ethnic Hawaiians than non-Hawaiians. Those non-Hawaiians who meet the standards and choose to attend Kamehameha will grow up to make valuable contributions to the perpetuation and flourishing of Hawaiian culture. Three hundred years ago Hawaiian culture was only for ethnic Hawaiians. Today we all share kuleana for it -- both the right to participate and the responsibility to take care of it. Let’s not follow the racial separatists. Kamehameha can lead the way toward multiracial unity in support of Hawaiian culture. Imua Kamehameha!


HOWEVER, in 2003 Kamehameha Schools once again chose the segregationist path. Responding to strong pressures from alumni and from Hawaiian sovereignty activists, the schools publicly stated that henceforth the racially exclusionary admissions policy would be vigorously defended. An aggressive race-based outreach program was established to ensure that there would be more than enough qualified ethnic Hawaiian applicants so there would not be any vacancies for non-Hawaiians. School officials refused a demand from an attorney to admit a well-qualified non-Hawaiian child who had applied; and the attorney filed a lawsuit. For details, see:


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Email: ken_conklin@yahoo.com