Friday, September 12, 2003

Dad wants
student back

Kenneth Mohica seeks custody,
alleging the boy is a scapegoat
and should not be enrolled

The father of the non-Hawaiian student who was admitted to Kamehameha Schools last month under court order is seeking custody of his son, alleging that the boy is a scapegoat in the fight against the schools' admission policy.

Kenneth Mohica, father of 12-year-old Brayden Mohica-Cummings, filed a motion in Family Court last Friday, alleging that his son's enrollment at Kamehameha is not in the child's best interest.

"He should not have to endure the negativity that is present and will continue to be present as a result of his being a scapegoat to challenge Kamehameha Schools' admissions policy," Mohica wrote.

The boy's mother, Kalena Santos, said yesterday that she was upset when she was served with the order on Wednesday and intends to fight it. She denied using her son as a scapegoat.

"Brayden wants to be there. I'm not forcing him to be there. I'm doing it because this is what he wants," Santos said.

While Mohica does not explicitly say he intends to remove his son from Kamehameha, seeking full custody means he wants Brayden with him on Kauai, Santos said.

She said Mohica never wanted Brayden to attend Kamehameha.

Santos filed a lawsuit in federal court last month challenging Kamehameha Schools' admission policy giving preference to Hawaiians.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction ordering the school to admit the seventh-grader pending a ruling on the constitutionality of the admission policy.

Kamehameha Schools had rescinded Mohica-Cummings' admission just days before classes were to start saying Santos had not proved her son's Hawaiian ancestry. Brayden's parents do not have Hawaiian blood, but Santos' adopted father is native Hawaiian.

Her son was upset when told about his father's intentions, she said.

Warren Perry, attorney for Mohica, declined comment, saying his client has asked the court to order Santos to keep from talking about the case outside the courtroom.

According to the motion, Mohica is seeking temporary and eventually full custody of his son, with reasonable visitation awarded to Santos. The couple, who never married, broke up when Mohica-Cummings was a year old.

Santos has been ordered to appear at a hearing in Kauai Family Court on Monday.

The court had awarded Santos full custody of her son in 1994 and outlined visitation rights for Mohica, including on his days off from work, two weeks during the summer and alternate holidays, she said.

Mohica wrote that he has been deprived of visitation with his son since he left for Oahu on Aug. 18 and since then has had only a 15-minute phone call. Mohica said he got a sense during that call that the "tension and notoriety" his son seemed to be under was not in his best interest.

But Santos said her son told her he simply did not want to talk to his father, knowing he disapproved of his attending Kamehameha.

Santos said her son is adjusting well and has matured in the short period since he began at the Kapalama campus.

"Every day I talk to him, he sounds excited and happy, not sad or discouraged," Santos said.


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