Kamehameha SchoolsBy Debra Barayuga
group welcomes inquiry
Representatives of Kamehameha Schools alumni, students and parents say they welcome an investigation by the state attorney general into Bishop Estate.
"It means the governor is listening and the attorney general is also obviously paying very close attention to the controversy," said Beadie Kanahele Dawson, attorney for Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi, an organization of more than 2,000 Kamehameha students, parents and alumni.
The controversy has escalated beyond issues Na Pua has raised about the usurpation of President Michael Chun's authority, micromanagement by Bishop Estate trustees and the climate of mistrust and fear among students and faculty.
A probe of Bishop Estate is a "logical outcome" of a trust and a school that are one entity, not separate, Dawson said, "not by terms of the will, nor by any legal definition of law nor by admission by the estate itself which refers to itself as Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate."
With the school year starting next Wednesday, news of the investigation will help reassure students and faculty that they are being taken seriously, Dawson said.
Although the attorney general in previous years has raised issues arising from annual reports or the master's report, this is probably the first time that the attorney general has initiated a large-scale probe, she said.
The controversy would never have come this far if the trustees had listened to Na Pua in the beginning, said Roy Benham, president of the Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association-Oahu Region.
Na Pua had sought several times to meet with trustees after the trustees canceled two "talk story" sessions sponsored by alumni in May.
About 700 alumni and supporters staged a peaceful walk to Bishop Estate headquarters at Kawaiahao Plaza and presented trustees with three requests: return administration of the school to Chun, reschedule the talk story sessions so dialogue can begin, and lastly, ensure that no action will be taken against faculty, staff and others fearful of speaking out.
Instead, trustees turned to the courts.
"They initiated the fact-finder and that started the whole thing," Benham said.
Key dates in leading up to yesterday's call for an attorney general's investigation into Bishop Estate:
The estate and the case
May 3: A Kamehameha alumna calls attention to mismanagement of Kamehameha Schools in a letter to state Supreme Court justices.
May 14: Bishop Estate seeks to authorize trustees to delegate retired Circuit Judge Patrick Yim as fact-finder into allegations surrounding Kamehameha Schools.
May 15: More than 700 Kamehameha alumni and supporters stage a peaceful march to the state Supreme Court and to Bishop Estate.
May 20-22: Na Kumu o Kamehameha, a group of more than 200 faculty members, requests a meeting with trustees.
May 24: Eleven representatives of Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi -- an organization of more than 2,000 Kamehameha students, parents and alumni -- walk out of a meeting at Bishop Estate offices after only two trustees come.
June 5: Na Kumu issues a two-page public statement about their concerns surrounding management of the school.
June 27: Hearing before Judge Colleen Hirai. Court rules in favor of Na Pua's requests to open the inquiry to the public, give all persons with relevant information full and fair opportunity to be heard and grant confidentiality to all who ask for it.
July 10: Court order filed appointing Yim to conduct and begin an investigation. Yim has until Aug. 29 to produce a status report.
July 22: About 100 Kamehameha faculty meet with Yim and Na Pua's attorney.
Aug. 9: Four members of the native Hawaiian community -- Gladys Brandt, Walter Heen, Monsignor Charles Kekumano and Samuel P. King -- and UH professor Randall Roth blast Bishop Estate trustees, except for Oswald Stender, and ask for the attorney general to conduct an investigation into their management of Kamehameha Schools and the estate's financial assets in a lengthy letter to the Star-Bulletin.
YOU MAKE THE CALLWhat do you think will come out of an investigation of Bishop Estate by the attorney general?
Call: (808) 533-6977 before 9 p.m. today, August 13, 1997.
Leave: Your opinion, name, telephone number and the area you live in. A reporter may call you back.
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The Report that Started It All