faculty goes public

Risking their jobs, more than 200
teachers organize and issue a two-page
statement blasting trustees

By Rod Ohira and Gregg K. Kakesako

Members of a newly formed group of more than 200 Kamehameha Schools teachers may be in violation of school policy and could lose their jobs for speaking out.

The group, Na Kumu o Kamehameha, released a two-page statement last night detailing concerns about alleged management problems.

The statement said Bishop Estate trustees are seeking to have a hand-picked investigator appointed to look into problems, while ignoring faculty requests for a meeting to discuss issues.

Kamehameha Schools has a staff of about 250 teachers and counselors and 3,000 students at the Kapalama Heights campus.

Faculty members have said a clause in their contracts prohibit any actions or statements critical of Kamehameha Schools or Bishop Estate. The faculty also is not allowed to have an association.

This clause prevented them from participating in the May 15 three-mile protest march from the Royal Masoleum in Nuuanu to the state Judiciary and Bishop Estate headquarters, where a written request for a meeting with the trustees was delivered.

Two other requests were sent to the trustees on May 20 and May 21-22.

"By ignoring the faculty, the trustees have shifted discussions into a public forum," the group said in last night's statement. "Having failed to be acknowledged by the trustees, the faculty group has continued to meet and is now exploring different models for organizing more formally."

Elisa Yadao, Bishop Estate/Kamehameha Schools spokeswoman, said she couldn't comment on any action the trustees could take against the faculty.

The faculty group has named Gary Obrect, Charlene Hoe, Kawika Eyre and Kehau Abad as its spokespeople, and none would comment beyond the statement that was released.

The faculty group disagrees with several statements made by trustees in a May 14 petition to have retired Circuit Judge Patrick Yim appointed as an independent fact-finder.

The trustees are seeking to have the fact-finder conduct an inquiry into the controversy, file a written report of his findings to them, serve as a mediator, and provide them with private advice and counsel.

Yadao said that "it is premature to be casting doubts because the process hasn't even started."

She added: "We are going forward with efforts to have a fact finder appointed and believe that it is the most positive way to to resolve these issues. Certainly, Judge Yim is a man of great skill and high integrity."

Yadao said it is the hope of Kamehameha Schools and Bishop Estate that "people would participate in the fact finding."

In its statement, the school's faculty group said: "The trustees have hand-picked an investigator 'to render to all of the trustees and the Estate's general counsel a written report' and 'privileged advice and counsel.'"

"Under the terms of the petition, no other individuals, even within KSBE, would receive this information," the statement added. "Such secrecy works against a shared resolution of the issues by all parties involved."

The petition also notes that "there now exists a serious internal situation arising from various allegations concerning the management and administration of Kamehameha Schools.

"The administration of Kamehameha Schools is a function reserved to the trustees that cannot be entirely delegated by them to their employees, including without limitation, the incumbent president of the Kamehameha Schools."The "serious internal situation," the faculty says, "arises not from various allegations concerning management and administration ... but from real and pervasive problems in these areas. The faculty has been actively trying to address these issues for a period of years."

The faculty also disputes statements in the fact-finder petition that state "efforts to initiate a process to assemble complete and accurate information have been unsuccessful to date" and "the 1996-97 school year ends shortly and there is now a brief opportunity to conduct an impartial inquiry and make appropriate decisions before the commencement of the next school year."

The faculty says it is unaware of any comprehensive fact-finding attempt by the trustees. "The trustees have ignored even recent attempts by the faculty to initiate such a process," the statement says. The faculty contends that a thorough fact-finding inquiry would take longer than the summer break and that "to make appropriate decisions" to address problems would take even longer.

"Both phases should involve all impacted parties, including students, parents, and faculty who will not be readily available during the summer," the group says.

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