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Thursday, May 8, 2003




[ OUR OPINION ]

McCubbin should
clear air about
resignation


THE ISSUE

The Kamehameha Schools leader leaves his post amid questions of improper conduct.


THE clouded departure of Hamilton McCubbin as head of Kamehameha Schools is not likely to disrupt the institution's progress, but leaving to speculation the true reasons for his abrupt resignation alienates the school's constituents and the larger community. McCubbin would serve all of them well with a full explanation.

McCubbin's stated motive for leaving his job as chief executive officer is that he has achieved many of the goals he set and that he now wants to spend more time with his family. While he has moved the schools far forward since the days when Kamehameha Schools, then called Bishop Estate, was wracked by the ethical and legal scandals of its trustees, his quitting just three months after extending his $350,000-a-year contract raises questions.

These doubts are further fueled by reports of improper conduct with past and present employees, including a case of sexual harassment at the University of Wisconsin where he was dean of the School of Human Ecology before signing on with Kamehameha. The university paid a professor in the department $85,000 after she alleged that McCubbin persistently pursued an intimate relationship with her despite her rejections. The university made the settlement even though its investigation reveal no misconduct on McCubbin's part.

McCubbin's resignation came at a time when Kamehameha was looking into a complaint from employees in his office that he was having an affair with another worker there. Although he had disclosed the Wisconsin incident to trustees before he was hired, the new complaint prompted the board to revisit the issue.

McCubbin, a 1959 Kamehameha graduate with a notable academic career, is due credit for a number of recent accomplishments that changed the image of a trust tarnished with corruption of its former board members. He extended the schools' reach, opening campuses on Maui and the Big Island to provide educational opportunities for more Hawaiian children. Under his leadership, Kamehameha expanded early childhood education to thousands of children and undertook partnerships with the state Department of Education and others for charter schools in areas with large Hawaiian populations.

McCubbin, who in 1992 had been considered for the job of senior vice president of academic affairs at the University of Hawaii, leaves at a time when the trust has other key leadership vacancies with the recent resignations of its chief financial officer and its vice president of education.

The $6 billion trust, established by the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, had been making great strides in reviving its core mission to educate Hawaii's children. It has weathered many controversies and while there is little doubt it will recover from the blow of the disturbing resignation, McCubbin owes parents, students and staff a thorough accounting.

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Frank Teskey, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor, 529-4791; fbridgewater@starbulletin.com
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Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4748; mpoole@starbulletin.com

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