Kamehameha Schools critic licks his chops over opinion
Honolulu attorney David Rosen said a Supreme Court decision that race can't be used as the only factor in achieving student diversity in schools will support his challenge against Kamehameha Schools' policy of admitting only native Hawaiians.
"My goal is still to sue the school and get rid of its discriminatory admissions policy," said Rosen, who was looking for students as potential plaintiffs last month. "I think the decision helps a lot and I think the trustees ... should understand the court has said you cannot use binary concepts of race."
The court voted 5-4 to reject diversity plans in public school districts in Seattle and Louisville, Ky. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in the majority opinion that they failed to show their plans considered race in the context of a larger educational concept.
Stressing that he supports affirmative action, Rosen said, "Race can be a factor; it can't be the factor. You can't say if you are of a preferred race you can get in but if you are not of a preferred race you can't get in."
He said the two public school districts in the Supreme Court case "are using a binary approach to race in their admissions policy and the Supreme Court couldn't be clearer in saying you cannot do that. It's unacceptable. Period."
Kamehameha Schools spokeswoman Ann Botticelli said the case before the Supreme Court has no relationship to Kamehameha Schools' admissions policy.
Among differences, she said, the Supreme Court case involved public schools that accept federal money and issues that concerned racial balancing.
Kamehameha is a private school that receives no federal money and it has "indigenous roots," she said. Kamehameha's policy "is about providing a remedy for harm suffered by the Hawaiian people ongoing today and evident in a number of (negative) social indicators in which Hawaiians are overrepresented," she said.
Congress has acknowledged a special trust relationship between the schools and the Hawaiian people "that provides greater leeway for remedial action for issues," she said.
The latest challenge to the schools' Hawaiians-only admissions from a non-Hawaiian student who was denied admission was settled last month under undisclosed terms. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled 8-7 in December to uphold the admissions policy and the lawsuit was pending in the Supreme Court.