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Wednesday, November 19, 2003



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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
At federal court yesterday, Kamehameha Schools alumnus Roy Benham, top left, worked on a letter as Paulette Moore and Leinaala Naipo-Akamine looked on.



Judge to reflect
on ‘segregation’
legal argument

Ezra will consider
new testimony in
the Kamehameha
admission case


A federal judge said he hopes to decide in the next two to three weeks on a lawsuit by a non-Hawaiian student challenging the Kamehameha Schools' century-old admission policy.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra said yesterday that he will use the time to consider additional legal arguments presented yesterday on Kauai seventh-grader Brayden Mohica-Cummings' efforts to overturn Kamehameha Schools' policy of giving preference to students of native Hawaiian ancestry.

Ezra's comments came a day after U.S. District Judge Alan Kay upheld the policy in a separate case, saying the admission program is justified because it aims to remedy past injustices and cure existing social economic ills among Hawaiians.

In August, Ezra issued a temporary restraining order forcing the Kamehameha Schools to admit Mohica-Cummings. Mohica-Cummings was initially accepted into the school's Kapalama Heights campus but was later turned away after he was unable to document that he was of Hawaiian descent.

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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kamehameha supporters joined hands and chanted outside the courthouse after U.S. Judge David Ezra delayed his decision about the schools' admission policy for two to three weeks.



Ezra's restraining order did not rule on the merits of the suit but said Kamehameha Schools waited too long to rescind Mohica-Cummings' admission.

Eric Grant, Mohica-Cummings' lawyer, said he plans to file an appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals if Ezra rules against him.

Grant, who also represents the unnamed student whose challenge was rejected by Kay, said he hopes Ezra will allow Mohica-Cummings to attend the Kamehameha Schools while such an appeal would be decided.

He noted that Mohica-Cummings is fitting in at the school and is taking part in extracurricular activities.

During the hourlong hearing, Grant argued that Kamehameha's admission policy amounts to "educational segregation." He echoed arguments he made before Kay on Monday that federal civil rights laws bar Kamehameha from excluding students based on race.

"I think Kamehameha Schools unfortunately is taking a very strong stand that they want to get rid of him as soon as possible," said Grant, who attended yesterday's court proceedings with Mohica- Cummings' mother, Kalena Santos. "I feel bad that people are being treated on the basis of race, which I think is illegal and immoral."

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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kamehameha Schools attorney Crystal Rose spoke to journalists in front of the federal courthouse yesterday after a decision on the schools' admission policy was put off for two to three weeks. Kamehameha trustees Douglas Ing and Constance Lau were to her left and trustee Nainoa Thompson was in back to her right.



Kamehameha attorney, Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan, said such policies pass legal muster so long as they serve a remedial purpose of addressing social imbalances suffered by Hawaiians.

Sullivan argued that federal law gives private entities such as the Kamehameha Schools, which receives no government funding, more leeway than a public agency when it comes to implementing a race-conscious program.

"This is not a segregative institution," she said.

Founded by the 1884 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the $6 billion Kamehameha Schools is a private, nonprofit charitable trust that educates more than 4,800 children of native Hawaiian ancestry each year.

Kamehameha officials, meanwhile, said they are prepared for a lengthy appeal process.

They said that the Kamehameha board periodically reviews admissions to see if its Hawaiian preference policy should be modified.

The trust also eliminated several programs that receive federal funding, such as the ROTC program, in an apparent attempt to head off legal challenges.

"We knew this case was coming," said Trustee Douglas Ing. "We knew it was coming for years and we have been working on our defense for years."

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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kalena Santos, in white dress, the mother of Brayden Mohica-Cummings, left federal court followed by her son's attorneys, Eric Grant and John Goemans.



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