Thursday, February 26, 1998

Bronster subpoena's Kamehameha admission records

State wants to look at
whether there was favoritism in
selecting students

By Rick Daysog

The state attorney general's office is seeking records of about 15,000 student applicants to Kamehameha Schools as part of its investigation into admission policies, according to a Bishop Estate attorney.

The state last month subpoenaed applications, student interviews, rating sheets used to assess students, and parents' financial records for those who applied for admissions at Kamehameha since 1995, William McCorriston said.

McCorriston and Darolyn Lendio, who also is representing the estate, said they are opposing the subpoena, since the estate would have to produce more than 100,000 pages of documents. They also said the disclosure of students' names could violate students' and parents' rights to privacy.

The state, however, said the subpoena is a follow-up to court-appointed fact finder Patrick Yim's December report which harshly criticized trustees' oversight of Kamehameha Schools.

The Yim report said trustees influenced elementary-school admissions, and the admissions director instructed admission committee members to place preferential red dots next to students' names, regardless of their qualifications.

"I think the attorney general's office would be remiss if we didn't follow up with what the court-appointed fact finder found," said Hugh Jones, deputy attorney general. "We're not investigating a rear-end collision, we are investigating possible breaches of fiduciary duties."

A hearing on the subpoena is set for March 10.

The subpoena comes as state attorneys have interviewed Wayne Chang, Kamehameha Schools' director of admissions, on possible "manipulations of the student admissions process."

According to senior Deputy Attorney General Lawrence Goya, Chang refused to answer questions on whether children of some prominent local residents received favorable treatment in the admissions process.

Chang also refused to answer questions on whether Bishop Estate trustees influenced the admission of certain children, Goya said.

Chang's attorney, Howard Luke, said his client is cooperating with the state, but was only concerned about students' and parents' privacy rights.

The state wants the Circuit Court to order Chang to answer questions on the admissions process.

An estate spokesman could not be reached for comment this morning, but trustees have said they were unaware of any such preferential treatment.

In a related matter, Circuit Judge Kevin Chang today continued a hearing until April 30 on a state subpoena seeking critical Internal Revenue Service records.

The state subpoena seeks inquiries made by the IRS in its two-year audit of the estate.

This subpoena is separate from a previous one for the same IRS inquiries as well as the estate's response to those inquiries.

Chang last month ordered the estate to hand over the IRS inquiries and the estate's responses to those inquiries to the state.

The order was put on temporary hold last week by the Hawaii Supreme Court.

The state argues the IRS documents could show if Bishop Estate trustees received benefits and perks at the expense of the estate.

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