Bishop trustees
mail newsletters
to 17,000

The letter urges alumni, others,
to give info to fact-finder Yim

By Gordon Y.K Pang

Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate has mailed a newsletter to about 17,000 alumni, parents and others urging them to give information to Patrick Yim, who is investigating allegations that the trustees are mismanaging the school.

Besides encouraging people to discuss issues with fact-finder Yim, a retired judge, board of trustees chairman Richard "Dickie" Wong wrote of fostering better communications between the trustees and alumni, parents and faculty.

The seven-page newsletter includes a cover letter signed by Wong, a report on Kamehameha's latest programs and a sheet asking for those with information to call Yim.

But some critics contend that the newsletter is too little, too late.

Na Pua a Ke Ali'i, the alumni-parent group sparked by disenchantment over trustee management at Kamehameha, has criticized trustees for not encouraging people to discuss issues with Yim. It has also scolded the trustees for not responding to concerns raised by the group and other critics.

"It's a public relations piece, and I must say that I find it a little bit insulting," said Na Pua attorney Beadie Kanahele Dawson.

Alumni and parents went unheard when they first brought issues to the trustees in May and Wong is only now offering to communicate, Dawson said.

"He's a little late."

Dawson said it is also late for the trustees to be encouraging people to see Yim, since he was appointed in June and has already submitted an initial report.

The mailing "raises more questions about their expenditures to defend their personal behavior," Dawson said.

Estate spokeswoman Elisa Yadao said Na Pua's criticisms did not prompt the newsletter.

"It's part of our continuing effort to improve our communications," she said.

Yadao said trustees have been urging people to participate in Yim's fact-finding since the beginning.

Trustee Gerard Jervis sent a strong message about it in a school opening-day speech, while it has also been alluded to in an employee newsletter, she said.

"The fact-finding was a process initiated by the trustees and they have continually encouraged people to express their concerns to Judge Yim," she said.

Since Yim began his work, she said, the trustees have encouraged participation in Yim's fact-finding.

Toni Lee, Na Pua president, said she never got the newsletter.

"I heard some people say they got one and nobody in my house has and we are all graduates," she said.

Yadao said she would see to it that a copy is sent to Lee.

Lee said trustees don't really want to open communications. "They have not chosen to speak to Na Pua, are they just choosy about who they are communicating with?"

Wong writes in the newsletter: "The past few weeks have been very difficult for every one of us who is part of the Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate ohana.

Complex issues, differing opinions and strong feelings on all sides have caused discussion to escalate in to debate, and debate into contention."

The word "investigation" is not used to describe Yim's work.

Instead, Wong writes "I encourage anyone who feels they can contribute to this process to contact him."

Wong's letter further says that "contrary to media reports," he and fellow trustees want open communication with those affiliated with Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate.

"We just don't believe the media should be part of our internal discussions," Wong writes.

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