Lindsey, Stender
clash on essay

She rebuts the educators' criticism;
he says the points they made
are right on the mark

By Jaymes Song and Gordon Pang

Bishop Estate trustees Lokelani Lindsey and Oswald Stender disagree on the merits of an essay, published in the Star-Bulletin yesterday, that harshly criticizes management of Kamehameha Schools.

Lindsey rebutted criticisms and allegations made in the essay, authored by five prominent educators.

Stender said the criticisms are on the mark.

The essay said Lindsey intimidated students, mistreated faculty and bypassed teachers' input on management decisions that have a long-lasting impact on the schools.

Authors of the essay, "Broken Trust II," are Roderick McPhee, former headmaster and president emeritus of Punahou School; Winona Rubin, former assistant to the president of Kamehameha Schools; Gladys Brandt, ex-principal of Kamehameha School for girls and director of the secondary division of Kamehameha Schools; Hawaiiana consultant Winona Beamer, and University of Hawaii professor Isabella Abbott.

The five called for Lindsey to be removed as a trustee immediately, along with fellow trustees Gerard Jervis, Henry Peters and Richard Wong, "who allowed her to terrorize the school." The only trustee spared from criticism was Stender, who has been aligned with those critical of trustee actions.

Lindsey said, however, that Stender joined his colleagues when they made a controversial decision to eliminate Kamehameha's community outreach programs. The essay took issue with the demise of the programs.

Lindsey said Stender "flip-flopped" on the issue "when he was unable to resist the opinions of those people who were affected by the board's efforts to improve the educational process at Kamehameha Schools."

Stender acknowledged last night that he voted to eliminate the programs but added that he later regretted the decision. He said he changed his mind about eliminating some of the programs when he learned that a consultant who recommended eliminating them did not speak to teachers and other school leaders as part of his study.

Stender said he also didn't find out until later that the estate could afford to keep the outreach programs in addition to opening new campuses on the neighbor islands. He said he tried to put reconsideration of the programs on the trustee agenda but failed to collect any support.

The elimination of the outreach programs left 170 Kamehameha teachers and staffers without jobs, a point also criticized in the essay.

Lindsey said: "Excellent severance packages were involved. The terminated programs were not effective and students were even regressing in some instances due to the ineffectiveness of the programs. If the teachers were qualified, they could come back and teach in the new programs that were initiated."

The essay also takes issue with the hiring of Rockne Freitas as school vice president. The former University of Hawaii administrator's role is to run day-to-day school operations, while president Michael Chun is now charged with long-term planning.

The essay said "Freitas is not taken seriously as an educator."

But Lindsey said, "Oswald Stender recommended Rockne Freitas when doing succession planning for the schools, before Freitas was hired." She said Chun also recommended Freitas, his former Kamehameha classmate, for vice president.

Stender said he recommended Freitas for the then-vacant positions of director of administration and assets management staff but never as vice president in charge of educational programs.

Stender said he first questioned the need for a vice president, and then the hiring of Freitas for the post. Stender said he views Freitas as a good administrator but "I was never aware of his educational background."

The essay also said Lindsey had recently demanded that all Kamehameha Schools kindergartners be able to identify each of the trustees by Christmas.

"This is an outrageous lie," Lindsey said in a statement. "Allegations are being made without attribution or proof. This amounts to McCarthyism."

McPhee said he has complete faith in the source of the information, an estate trustee. He said he "strongly stands by" the essay and wants to see the school "get back on track."

McPhee said it is difficult for the faculty at Kamehameha to speak out because they "live in fear" about what could happen to them.

Lindsey said she could not meet with reporters on Thanksgiving because she was too busy "cooking a turkey and baking pies," and she faxed a statement to the media.

"The defenders of the Status Quo at Kamehameha Schools obviously believe Thanksgiving Day is just another chance to keep up their relentless attack," it said. "But the Status Quo is not good enough for the children of Kamehameha Schools. I am committed to telling the truth and will do so relentlessly in my own way in the days to come."

Stender said teachers were left out of the loop when the schools' strategic plan was formulated, contributing to bad faculty morale, as was suggested in the essay.

Stender is on the board of trustees of Iolani School, St. Andrew's Priory and the Academy of the Pacific, and each of those schools, he said, has their teachers involved in all phases of the planning process.

"Mrs. Lindsey keeps telling me teachers will be involved when they get the operational plan," Stender said.

Lindsey said teachers weren't given contracts until just prior to this school year because "the pay raise had to be factored into each individual contract. They knew that the contracts would not be offered until the budget was approved, including the pay raises for the teachers."

Doug Carlson, Lindsey's newly hired public relations adviser, said she acknowledges that she remained seated during a standing ovation for Kamehameha Schools president Michael Chun during this year's graduation ceremony, but denies trying to have him fired.

"It's totally false that she has attempted to have him removed for his popularity," Carlson said. "Other reasons exist that will be articulated in due time."

Stender said he is frustrated with Lindsey's continued micromanagement of the schools. When he makes suggestions to board colleagues, he said, he is told "'Mrs. Lindsey is the educator. She knows best.' And it's irritating me."

Stender said many Kamehameha teachers have left the schools and taken pay cuts to work at other private institutions. "To look the other way and say it's just a few disgruntled teachers, that's not so," he said.

The educators' essay follows the "Broken Trust" article that appeared in the Star-Bulletin in August. The first essay alleged mismanagement of the estate's assets and prompted state Attorney General Margery Bronster to open an investigation into the trustees' stewardship of the $10 billion charitable trust.

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