By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer
A petition drive to change the admissions policy at Kamehameha Schools ends today after organizers spent more than a week hitting shopping malls and knocking on doors in Hawaiian Homes neighborhoods.
Activists plan to present thousands of signatures to Kamehameha Schools trustees this afternoon.
The petition asks trustees to change the admissions policies so that only Hawaiian applicants can be enrolled.
"We have about 7,000 signatures ... we're still counting," said the Rev. Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell, one of the petition organizers. "My fax is full. My phone won't stop ringing."
After posting the petition on his Web site, Maxwell started getting petition signatures from as far away as Canada, New York and Washington, D.C.
Kamehameha Schools runs campuses on O'ahu, Maui and the Big Island with money from the $6 billion estate of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop.
Outrage over the recent announcement that the schools would accept a non-Hawaiian student to the Maui campus has set opponents into motion throughout the Islands from the petition urging trustees to change admissions policy to a movement on Maui to recruit more Hawaiian students.
The petition reads: "This petition seeks to change the trustees' current admission policy so that Hawaiian applicants who are the beneficiaries of the trust can gain admission and benefit from the education Princess Pauahi intended to provide for them."
Organizers are hoping that it will move the trustees to change the policy, but have hinted that they will consider filing a lawsuit otherwise.
Many believe that, at least in part, trustees let in the non-Hawaiian Maui student as a way to deflect potential lawsuits challenging the Hawaiian-preference policy in place now.
A racially discriminatory policy could cause the trust to lose its nonprofit status, but till now the Internal Revenue Service has upheld the Hawaiian preference.
Trustees are planning six months of community meetings to discuss possible changes to the admissions policy.
Another petition went to the state Board of Education last week, this one about the new Kapolei Public Library and State Librarian Virginia Lowell.
Lowell ignited a community debate recently by refusing to accept donated books from residents who had been stockpiling them in anticipation of the library's opening. When the Legislature failed to provide $1.7 million for 25 staff members, books and other library equipment that Lowell said she needed to open the library, it seemed to some residents like the perfect opportunity to help.
Though the financing delay meant that the $6.5 million facility would not open as a full-service library until December 2003 at the earliest, Lowell has insisted that donated books would not be accepted and that the state should adequately finance the library and provide an appropriate book collection.
The petition, organized by activist Michael Golojuch Jr., supports Lowell and her judgment on the best course for the Kapolei Library.
The Board of Education also adopted a resolution supporting Lowell's decision and another one urging the Legislature to provide enough money.
Reach Jennifer Hiller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 525-8084.