Hawaiian-Preference Policy Stands at Kamehameha - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaiian-Preference Policy Stands at Kamehameha

Dee Jay Miller Dee Jay Miller
Vanessa Iwai Vanessa Iwai

By Howard Dashefsky and Stephen Florino

KAPALAMA (KHNL) A day of celebration here as a settlement is reached in a bitter dispute over the school's admissions policy.

This means the school's legal right to give preference to Native Hawaiian applicants stands.

Kamehamea School Trustees announced the confidential settlement with the un-named student Monday morning.

The trustees also said settling the case was in the best interest of those they serve, namely it's students.

This particular challenge to the admissions policy was filed by a "John Doe" in June of 2003.

In a separate case in August 2003, a federal court orders Kamehameha Schools to enroll a non-hawaiian boy, 12-year-old Brayden Mohica-Cummings, until a final decision is reached.

In november of '03 - a U.S. District Judge decides against "John Doe", Ruling Kamehameha Schools can continue its Hawaiians-preference policy.

In august 2005 - by a 2-1 vote, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides in favor of John Doe, ruling that Kamehameha's admissions policy constitutes unlawful racial discrimination.

But then one week later, the same three judges deny a request by john doe to be admitted in the fall, pending an appeal by the school.

Then in 2006 an 8-7 decision, the full 9th circuit rules that the admissions policy does not violate a federal civil rights law.

On Monday, students march for a big legal victory for Kamehameha Schools.

The four year fight over their admissions policy is over.

Kamehameha and the plaintiff in the lawsuit, john doe, agree on a settlement.

John Doe agrees to drop his petition before the Supreme Court.

And the school gets to keep its 120-year old policy offering preference to native hawaiians.

" That's the thing that bonds us together, so if the admissions policy was to be open up to anybody, that specialness, that uniqueness, it's gone, says Vanessa Iwai, a parent.

" Right now, all of us are thinking about the work to do tomorrow. Because for every single minute we are distracted on a case like this, which is now pau, we should be spending those minutes actually fulfilling our mission, Dee Jay Miller, Kamehameha Schools CEO.

For parents, it means the priviledge of sending your child to Kamehameha is intact.

"To me it's just an honor to have your child accepted to a school that represents hawaiian and the history of it, going so far back, it's just a really good feeling," Brian Kaluna, a parent.

" I know our princess would be smiling because our main purpose for giving us this private trust, was in order to educate our people so what we have effectively done today, is our right to do that."

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