Saturday, August 23, 2003

Non-Hawaiian Brayden Mohica-Cummings says he is "well received," his lawyer says

fair welcome

Meanwhile, Lingle disagrees
with the boy's admission
into Kamehameha

As many people have welcomed the 12-year-old non-Hawaiian student admitted into Kamehameha Schools under a preliminary injunction issued this week as have protested his admission, according to the boy's attorney.

"He's not concerned," Big Island attorney John Goemans said yesterday. "There's nothing to be alarmed about. He said he's well received."

U.S. District Judge David Ezra ordered the private school to admit seventh-grader Brayden Kekoa Mohica-Cummings on Wednesday while his lawsuit challenging the school's Hawaiians-only admissions policy is pending.

Meanwhile, Gov. Linda Lingle spoke out about the case yesterday, saying "it would be very bad public policy to allow students who are not covered in the princess's will, and clearly this boy is not covered by the will."

The boy and his mother filed suit after the school had admitted him and then reversed its decision, saying the boy's Hawaiian ancestry could not be established.

Ezra's ruling prompted some students, parents and alumni to protest at the school's Kapalama campus and moved some community members to publicly lash out at the boy's mother, Kalena Santos, for initiating the suit.

U.S. Attorney Edward Kubo spoke out Thursday against the heated commentary, warning residents that any violence or threats of violence are federal offenses.

"Despite the heated debate, there's no need of the urging of violence or talk that lends itself to condoning the violence," Kubo said at a press conference.

Goemans praised Kubo's warning but said it was unnecessary given assurances by school officials that the boy will come to no harm.

"It was a welcome statement," Goemans said, adding that he had anticipated some negative community reaction.

Lingle said yesterday that the school's Hawaiians-only admissions policy does not contradict the spirit of civil rights law.

"If you look at civil rights legislation in the country, they are trying to keep any group from being excluded," she said. "If you look at the ethnic makeup of the kids at Kamehameha Schools, they are every ethnic background in the book. The only difference is that they have to have some percentage of Hawaiian blood."

She said the school is not trying to keep any group out, "it's just saying every student has to have some percentage of Hawaiian blood."

The suit comes just a year after the school accepted a non-Hawaiian student to its Maui campus by choice. School officials said Kalani Rosell, of Wailuku, was enrolled only after the list of qualified Hawaiian students was exhausted. Rosell returned to the Maui campus for this school year, officials said.

When critics of the admittance accused Kamehameha of not doing enough to encourage Hawaiian applicants, the school temporarily waived the $25 application fee for the Maui and Big Island admission packets and no longer required a minimum test score.

Those changes are still in effect, Kamehameha spokeswoman Marsha Bolson said. And except for Mohica-Cummings, no non-Hawaiians have been admitted this school year, she said.

Associated Press reporter Bruce Dunford contributed to this report.


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