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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, July 26, 2002

7,000 sign petition to trustees

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Rev. Charles Kauluwehi
The Rev. Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell, facing camera, gives Kamehameha Schools trustee Nainoa Thompson a hug after meeting with the trustees at Kawaiaha'o Plaza to present a petition signed by more than 7,000 people.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Activists seeking a change in Kamehameha Schools admissions policy yesterday delivered a petition of more than 7,000 signatures in support of their position.

The petition signed by students, parents and alumni from Hawai'i and the Mainland was delivered to the schools' board of trustees by a group of about two dozen people that included children who were denied admission to the schools' Maui campus.

Alumni and others in the Native Hawaiian community were angered over the trustees' decision to admit a non-Hawaiian student to its Maui campus.

The mood was subdued, compared to two weeks ago when outraged activists began their petition drive. Yesterday there were no loud voices, no passionate outcry. Many of the children, the elders and the trustees shed tears as they sought a resolution to the situation.

Three binders decorated in banana bark and kapa held the petition signatures.

"As keepers of the trust we believe that you can fix this admission policy to better reflect the intent of Princess (Bernice) Pauahi (Bishop)," whose will established the schools, said Maui pediatrician Maile Jachowski, a Kamehameha alumna who helped organize the petition drive.

Trustee Douglas Ing said board members "have gone out and planned a very thorough review of the admissions procedure and the criteria — the very criteria that has hurt so many people."

Jachowski, the Rev. Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr. and Roy Benham of O'ahu led the group of petitioners.

When the Maui community had first heard about the acceptance of the non-Hawaiian to the Maui campus of Kamehameha Schools, they felt insulted, Maxwell said. They were hurt at being told that many of them were not good enough, he said.

"There was so much emotion then," Maxwell told the trustees. "I'm really hoping this (petition) would be a catalyst to approaching the problem."

Jachowskisaid she was shocked amd upset and felt betrayed two weeks ago. But yesterday, "we've come to mend," she told trustees tearfully.

"We've accepted your apologies and hope to work together with all of you," Benham said to trustees as he handed them the binders.

Board members said the action was consistent with the schools' admissions policy, written in 1992, that says non-Hawaiian students may be considered for admission if there are not enough applicants of Hawaiian ancestry who meet academic standards.

Kamehameha chief executive officer Hamilton McCubbin announced last week that trustees would hold a series of community meetings to review the policy.

"They are giving us a window of new opportunity to correct the course," McCubbin said. "We have made verbal representations, now we need to follow through."

Adrian Kamali'i, a 2000 graduate of the Kamehameha Schools, said: "Petitions are good intentions, but I think Hawaiians need actions.

"No more non-Hawaiians should be allowed into Kamehameha Schools until all of the 48,000 Hawaiian students in the public school system are allowed in. That's the issue."

Advertiser staff writer Kapono Dowson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.