By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Oswald Stender:"She was damaging the
very people that she was obligated to protect."
He testifies the trusteesBy Rick Daysog
never asked her to take over
It's his word against hers.
Bishop Estate trustee Oswald Stender yesterday took the witness stand for the first time in the 3-month-old trial to remove trustee Lokelani Lindsey, rebutting some of the claims Lindsey made during her recent eight days of testimony.
Stender -- who along with trustee Gerard Jervis is seeking Lindsey's ouster for alleged breaches of fiduciary duty and unfitness to serve -- told Circuit Judge Bambi Weil that Lindsey for years has displayed a pattern of irresponsible behavior that has harmed the estate-run Kamehameha Schools.
Lindsey micromanaged the Kapalama Heights campus, called teachers and popular school President Michael Chun "incompetent," and hurt student and faculty morale through her release of a controversial report criticizing students' academic performance, Stender said.
"She was damaging the very people that she was obligated to protect and serve," said Stender, the only Kamehameha graduate on the Bishop Estate board.
Lindsey's attorneys have defended her as a misunderstood educational advocate who faced a bonfire of criticism after she attempted to reform the Kamehameha Schools. They argued that she took a more hands-on approach at the Kapalama Heights campus after she lost faith in Chun's leadership skills.
Lindsey said Chun was unable to complete a strategic plan for the school and that students' learning experience was hurt by Chun's failure to implement an articulated curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Under questioning by his attorney, Crystal Rose, Stender said that when Lindsey was appointed lead trustee of the estate's educational program by the full board in 1993, she was to have served as a liaison between the school and the board.
But she never was authorized to take over Chun's duties, nor was she given permission to assume any of the responsibilities of her four fellow trustees at the school, Stender said.
The board never asked Lindsey to go to the campus to clean up its programs, said Stender.
"I believed that Kamehameha Schools is the best private school in the state. To say that the school would need cleaning up, I think, was an affront," said Stender, a trustee since 1989.
Stender feels Lindsey unfairly blamed Chun for problems at the Kamehameha Schools, since she had taken away many of his duties. Uncertainty over Chun's authority fueled morale problems among teachers and students, who feared the estate planned to fire him.
Stender also recounted the December 1997 release of Lindsey's controversial educational report that criticized the students' academic performance.
The much-criticized Lindsey report, entitled "An Imperative for Educational Change," said the
longer students stayed at the Kamehameha Schools, the poorer they fared when measured by standardized tests. The study also alleged that more than 30 students in the 1997 graduating class could barely read at grade level.
Stender and Jervis both believe the Lindsey report is inaccurate and was designed to deflect blame from her at the expense of students.
Yesterday, Stender called the release of the report "irresponsible," saying it called attention to a pattern of abusive behavior going back years.
As a result, Stender said that he and Jervis decided to ask Lindsey to step down voluntarily. Her refusal prompted the two trustees to sue for Lindsey's removal.
"I was appalled and horrified that Mrs. Lindsey knowingly released the report," said Stender.
His testimony continues on Tuesday.
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