Wednesday, May 5, 1999

Kamehameha teacher
files racial bias lawsuit

He says the school turned
a blind eye to slurs

By Lori Tighe


An African-American teacher is suing Kamehameha Schools and the Bishop Estate, alleging he was victimized by racial slurs while the school turned a blind eye.

Kamehameha teacher David Bostick, 34, of Honolulu says in a Circuit Court lawsuit that teachers and students at the school harassed him since 1997 by using "popolo," "nigger" and "niggah" in his presence or in reference to him.

"Popolo" is a Hawaiian word, used as a derogatory reference to African-Americans.

Bostick, who joined Kamehameha in 1994, currently teaches social studies to seniors at the school.

Kekoa Paulsen, spokesman for Kamehameha Schools and the estate, said they have not seen a copy of the complaint and declined to comment on it.

"We do have such a policy," against racial harassment, he said. "That kind of conduct wouldn't be tolerated."

Bostick filed discrimination complaints with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The investigations were terminated yesterday, when Bostick filed suit.

Bostick claimed he reported racial slurs used in his presence at least 10 times to his supervisor, Sandy Young, as well as to secondary school Principal Tony Ramos, and they did nothing to stop the comments.

A teacher reportedly told her class Bostick was too sensitive to the slurs, according to the suit.

Bostick also alleges he suffered retaliation in memos from his supervisor for filing his discrimination claims.

Bostick's attorney, Gordon Bronson, said he has letters showing the Bishop Estate trustees, school President Michael Chun and Ramos all knew about Bostick's complaints of racial discrimination.

"Any institution, especially of education, should have zero tolerance for racism. It is truly sad," Bronson said.

"To have zero tolerance or not for racial discrimination is between God and Kamehameha Schools."

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