Children sue to become Kamehameha students

David Mahelona
David Mahelona
Corbett Kalama
Corbett Kalama
Tom McAuliffe
Tom McAuliffe
Nadine Chang
Nadine Chang

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Kamehameha schools is slapped with another lawsuit, this time by four children who say they've been denied admission because of what they say is the school's "hawaiians only" admissions policy.

But the school says its admissions policy is not Hawaiians only it's hawaiians preference and does not bar anyone from attending classes.

Discrimination or just following the direct wishes of the school's benefactor.

It's an issue that's being debated back and forth and may soon be up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide.

At Kamehameha schools, parents say taking their kids here is about pride.

"I wanted them to really get up on their Hawaiian ancestry because I didn't get that growing up," said Parent David Mahelona.

"We will fight to maintain our preference policy," said School Trustee Corbett Kalama.

But the school, is coming under fire again, after 4 students filed lawsuits for the right to be considered for admission without regard to their race. The school says preference for Hawaiian students isn't prejudice, it's the will of the school's benefactor.

"These attacks that come against Kamehameha are basically trying to take away everything that our princess intended to happen," said Kalama.

"Kamehameha schools admission policy is the antithesis of what America is all about," said Grass Root Institute Spokesman Tom McAuliffe.

A spokesman for Grass Root Institute of Hawaii disagrees, he says the school's policy requiring student's to have Hawaiian blood needs to change.

"Segmenting people based upon race and the blood in their veins is not what America's all about nor should it be what the state of Hawaii's all about," said McAuliffe.

Still, parents disagree the admission policy is discrimination.

"If I chose to leave my trust to whoever I decide to, I would expect my wishes to be kept. If you say leaving my children my things is discrimination, I say you're wrong," said Parent Nadine Chang.

Attorneys say they're ready to take this court battle as high as the U.S. Supreme Court to finally get a definitive ruling on this issue that's been debated for decades. The children say they don't want special treatment, all they're after is equal treatment.

The school filed a lawsuit of it's own Wednesday against individuals known as John and Jane Doe who also challenged its admission's policy, but settled the matter for $7 million five years ago.

Kamehameha says that information wasn't supposed to be made public and now they're seeking damages.