Tuesday, January 5, 1999

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Bishop Estate trustee Oswald Stender, left, listens
to fellow trustee Gerard Jervis during a break in court
proceedings. The two are seeking to have fellow trustee
Lokelani Lindsey removed from the board.

Trail of ‘harm,
destruction’ laid
to Lindsey

Bishop trustee Gerard Jervis
testifies that she harmed
Kamehameha Schools and
catered to her personal interests

By Rick Daysog


Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey left a trail of "harm and destruction" as lead trustee of educational programs at Kamehameha Schools, trustee Gerard Jervis has testified.

Before Circuit Judge Bambi Weil yesterday, Jervis said Lindsey displayed a lack of judgment, put her personal interests above those of the estate and failed to display remorse for her actions.

But Jervis said he and trustee Oswald Stender did not seek Lindsey's ouster until she released a controversial report in December 1997 that criticized the academic performance of Kamehameha Schools students.

The so-called Lindsey report, dubbed "An Imperative for Educational Change," alleged that the longer students remained at the estate-run Kamehameha Schools, the worse they performed as measured by standardized test scores. The study also said that more than 30 graduating seniors in the class of 1997 could barely read at 12th-grade levels.

"I was shocked and outraged," said Jervis, referring to the Lindsey report.

While Jervis' testimony did not raise new allegations in the long-running controversy over Lindsey's stewardship of the Kapalama Heights campus, it offered a unique, boardroom perspective. Jervis is the first Bishop Estate trustee to take the witness stand in the two-month-old trial that seeks to remove Lindsey as a trustee.

In court papers, Jervis and Stender allege she breached her fiduciary duties, mismanaged Kamehameha Schools and is unfit to serve on the estate's five-member board.

They said the Lindsey report contained inaccuracies that harmed student and faculty morale. They believe she released the study to deflect criticism from a separate report by court-appointed fact-finder Patrick Yim, which alleged that Lindsey managed by intimidation and undermined the authority of school President Michael Chun.

Lindsey stepped down as the estate's lead trustee for education last year. Her attorneys have argued that their client was given permission by the board of trustees to tell her side of the story. They said she had became the target of a rumor campaign after she attempted to correct problems at the schools.

Under questioning yesterday by Stender's attorney, Crystal Rose, Jervis described Lindsey's alleged intimidation and micromanagement tactics at the Kapalama Heights campus.

Jervis said Lindsey demanded an investigation of Kamehameha Schools staffers last March over the release of a critical accreditation review by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

The WASC report -- which granted the Kamehameha Schools a three-year accreditation instead of the six sought by the trust -- faulted trustees for dysfunctional management of the schools.

At one point last year, an attorney with the estate's outside law firm, McCorriston Miho Miller Mukai, questioned staffers under oath without their attorneys present. The interviews were conducted in front of a court reporter and workers were asked if they would submit to a polygraph test, Jervis said.

One employee came to him in tears after he put a temporary halt to the proceedings, Jervis said. Stender and Jervis later sought a temporary restraining order against the questioning.

"This was new ground that we were breaking because we were interrogating one of our own people using outside counsel," Jervis said. "I thought it was like killing a a fly with a bazooka."

Jervis, a trustee since December 1994, discussed various efforts to fire Chun during his tenure. Jervis said he and trustee Richard "Dickie" Wong discussed the subject in 1995 while waiting to take part in a local talk-radio show.

Wong then said he understood that Lindsey wanted Chun out, prompting a sharp reply from Jervis, who said Chun's removal would come over his "dead body."

Jervis said he twice instructed his attorney, Ronald Sakamoto, to draft a restraining order against such a move during the past two years.

"There were discussions from time to time about getting rid of Mike on the trustees' floor," said Jervis. "It was not a secret."

During nearly six hours on the witness stand, Jervis also sparred with Lindsey's attorney, Michael Green, over Lindsey's role as head of the estate's educational programs. Green attempted to show that Chun was not qualified for the task to run Kamehameha Schools, prompting Lindsey's intervention.

Green said the estate's new Maui campus last year was nearly delayed because Chun forgot to order school desks, blackboards, student transportation and meals. Chun also was unable to hire teachers and administrators, Green said.

But Jervis blamed the problems on Lindsey, who he said constantly put holds on Chun's projects.

"People were frozen," he said.

Jervis' testimony continues today.

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