Kamehameha community relieved 'it's over'
Students and parents were surprised with the sudden end of the legal challenge
Kamehameha Schools students and their parents were surprised and happy yesterday with the sudden end of the legal challenge to the school's Hawaiians preference policy.
The students learned of the settlement during their morning homeroom session. High school Principal Julian Ako made the announcement over the Kapalama campus' closed-circuit television system.
"Everyone was actually pretty shocked at first," said sophomore Brock Vasconcellos. "They were like, 'Does this mean it's over?' And then we all started cheering."
Freshman Tricie Charles said she is happy the challenge is over. Her younger brother is scheduled to enter Kamehameha next year as a freshman. But if the policy had been overturned, she feared her younger sister would have a much tougher time getting in.
"A lot of students said that," Charles said.
Many parents said it, too.
"My fear is (whether) the school's going to be open to all," said Venessa Iwai, whose daughter is in the second grade at Kamehameha. "And then that will lessen ... my second child's chance to get in there, and their children's children and their children's children. Because already it's tough to get into the school."
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kamehameha Schools parents Brian Kaluna, with his son Jonah, and Venessa Iwai, with son Kobe, discussed the settlement yesterday morning of a lawsuit challenging the school's admission policy. CLICK FOR LARGE
Iwai said her daughter is the first of any generation in her family to attend Kamehameha. And while the school's policy survived this latest challenge, Iwai expects there will be more before her daughter graduates.
Angela Parker has a son in the seventh grade and two daughters on the waiting list. She knows getting accepted is difficult but possible. She has other reasons to cheer yesterday's announcement.
"I'm from New Zealand. I'm a native Maori, and we're (fighting) for our rights over there, too. And it's just nice to see that some Hawaiian rights are being upheld," Parker said.
Brian Kaluna said four of his siblings attended Kamehameha, and his daughter is in the fifth grade. He said he is happy the school will continue to help Hawaiians.
"I don't know why anybody would try to buck something that's been such a tradition for all these years." he said.
"The John Doe v. Kamehameha Schools case was just one more attempt by a few to chip away at Native Hawaiian rights."
Kamehameha Schools trustees
"I think they must have decided to put some money on the table, and I think it must not have been a small amount."
Critic of native Hawaiian bill
"We will move ahead with speed and diligence to extend our reach into our communities to more native Hawaiian children and families, as our princess intended."
Dee Jay Mailer
Chief executive of Kamehameha Schools
"This Doe v. Kamehameha settlement gives all of us renewed inspiration to press on with vigilance for passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (Akaka Bill)."