Thursday, November 27, 2003

Deal on student’s
lawsuit is offered

The boy might drop
the suit if allowed to
stay at Kamehameha

A Kauai seventh-grader might drop his lawsuit challenging Kamehameha Schools' century-old admission policy if the school will allow him to remain at its Kapalama Heights campus through the 12th grade.

U.S. District Judge David Ezra has scheduled a status conference tomorrow afternoon to discuss a proposed settlement to a lawsuit by Brayden Mohica-Cummings, the non-Hawaiian student who argued that the estate's policy of giving admission preference to native Hawaiian children was discriminatory.

Nainoa Thompson, vice chairman of the estate's five-member board of trustees, said the estate received a settlement offer yesterday afternoon, but stressed that the full board has not yet reviewed the proposal and has taken no action on the matter.

Thompson said the proposal involves complex legal issues that have broad implications. He did not provide details of the plan.

The estate has scheduled a special board meeting tomorrow before the status conference with Ezra.

"As trustees we will make the best decision to protect the will ... protect the legacy and protect the precious gift that Bernice Pauahi gave to us to keep in trust," Thompson said.

Mohica-Cummings' attorney Eric Grant declined comment.

Ezra said he planned to rule on Mohica-Cummings' lawsuit in the next two weeks after holding a hearing on the suit Nov. 18.

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

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.

A deal of some sort had been anticipated after U.S. District Judge Alan Kay ruled Nov. 17 to uphold Kamehameha Schools' admission policy in a separate suit brought by an unidentified student.

In that lawsuit, Kay ruled that the Hawaiian-preference admission policy did not violate federal anti-discrimination laws and was justified because it sought to remedy socioeconomic and educational disadvantages suffered by Hawaiians as a result of the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy.

That lawsuit, which also was filed by Grant, will be appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Grant said he also would appeal any decision by Ezra against Mohica-Cummings with the 9th Circuit. He said he also would ask for a stay on such an adverse decision pending the outcome of an appeal. Such an appeal would likely take three years to complete.


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