Amount of settlement raises critical concern
Supporters and critics expressed surprise yesterday at the $7 million Kamehameha Schools paid a student to settle a lawsuit disputing its Hawaiians-first admission policy.
One Kamehameha Schools alumnus says disclosure of the settlement with the anonymous, non-Hawaiian student will prompt questions among Hawaiians.
"I'm not happy with $7 million," said Kamehameha Schools alumnus Jan E. Hanohano Dill. "Unfortunately, that's a lot of money, and it's going to create a lot of questions in the Hawaiian community whether it was right or wrong and to continue."
Dill, also a board member of Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi, a nonprofit group whose members include students, parents, and alumni of Kamehameha Schools, said he continues to support the school's decision.
"I don't know the details, and I think that's something that has to be cleared," he said. "You settle because you want to avoid costs that would be incurred as you go forward."
He added, "I have to believe that they understood that this was something good for the Hawaiian people. ... It will be clear as things unfold whether that was true."
Dill, who is also president of the nonprofit Partners in Development Foundation, said the admissions policy must eventually be addressed and that the settlement avoids this case but does not stop other cases.
Marion Joy, former vice president of Na Pua, called the settlement a "misuse of trust funds."
"The trust is continually going to be challenged," she said. "This is not going to be the last. ... As far as settling for the particular lawsuit, it's not in the best interests of the beneficiaries (of the 1883 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop)."
Kamehameha Schools declined comment.
Honolulu attorney David Rosen, who has sought potential clients to sue Kamehameha over its admissions policy after the settlement, sent out a statement yesterday that said the $7 million settlement was used to "buy off this case."
He added that the trustees should open a campus on the Leeward Coast of Oahu and possibly Molokai where increased educational opportunities are needed.
H. William Burgess, a retired attorney and founder of Aloha for All, a group opposed to Hawaiian sovereignty, said the settlement raises questions about the proper use of the trust funds.
"Normally, trustees, if they're doubtful about doing something, they ask the court to give them instructions," he said. "Yet in this case, the biggest charitable trust, probably in the nation, instead of welcoming the opportunity to get the highest court in the land to settle it, they pay $7 million to leave it open. And it is very much open."