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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 7:30 a.m., Monday, May 14, 2007

Kamehameha Schools issues statement

News Release

Kamehameha Schools officials issued the following statement this morning on the schools' Web site:

We have reached agreement with "John Doe" to resolve Doe's lawsuit seeking to overturn our admissions policy. The terms of the settlement are confidential. By settling this case, we protect our right to offer admissions preference to Native Hawaiians. The plaintiff has withdrawn his petition for U.S. Supreme Court appeal of the 9th Circuit Court ruling upholding our preference policy as legally permissible.

This means that the Circuit Court ruling stands — our legal right to offer preference to Native Hawaiian applicants is preserved. Our work to fulfill our mission and Pauahi's vision, on our campuses and in our communities can proceed without distraction.

The ruling from the 9th Circuit Court is a pono one for Kamehameha Schools and for kanaka maoli. The majority opinion written by Judge Susan Graber acknowledges our unique history and the importance of our mission. In addition, the concurring opinion by Judge William Fletcher recognizes that Native Hawaiians have political status with the U.S. as a Native people. It is a great ruling to uphold, for Kamehameha Schools and the many federal and state programs that acknowledge and support the determination of our people to thrive. By settling this case we preserve our rights to serve our people in the manner we feel is best.

This was a very difficult decision. From the beginning of this lawsuit, we have been prepared to defend our policy to the very end of the judicial process. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that this lawsuit is only one piece of a much broader risk to the rights of Native Hawaiians, as the Indigenous people of this state, to manage and control our own resources.

We cannot ignore the treacherous landscape before us. We have all seen the systematic attempts to take Hawaiian Homelands, dismantle the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, to eliminate federal funding for programs that serve to improve the well-being of Native Hawaiians, and to scuttle attempts in the U.S. Congress to solidify our peoples' Indigenous status.

We have all heard our efforts to protect our rights as Indigenous people described as "Balkanization," "separatist" and "racist." We have all read essays and opinions that seek to rewrite Hawaiian history and the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and government.

The John Doe v. Kamehameha Schools case was just one more attempt by a few to chip away at Native Hawaiian rights. Settling this case preserves our ability to fulfill our mission and our right to use our resources for their directed purpose, as a completely private Trust established by the bequest of one of our Ali`i during the time of Hawaiian Sovereignty. Settling this case also reserves the rights of other private trusts Native and non-Native, as well as the rights of all Indigenous people to control and use resources designated for their benefit.

This settlement, which preserves a favorable 9th Circuit Court ruling, has the same legal effect as a denial of the plaintiff's petition for Supreme Court review. It allows us all to move forward with a common purpose: protecting the rights of kanaka maoli, private individuals and Indigenous people everywhere to use our own resources to take care of our own people.

As a Native Hawaiian trust, we will stand strong with other organizations and individuals to protect our assets. And as an Educational institution, we will move ahead with speed and diligence to extend our reach into our communities to more Native Hawaiian children and families, as our Princess intended. We have made significant gains in the number of children and families we serve in the past year, and we are ready to do more.

You have been stalwart in your support as we have fought to protect our rights and our mission. Mahalo piha for all that you do for Kamehameha Schools and for the children and families we serve.

Me ka ha'aha'a,

Trustee J. Douglas Ing, Chair

Trustee Nainoa Thompson

Trustee Diane Plotts

Trustee Robert Kihune

Trustee Corbett Kalama

Dee Jay Mailer, CEO