Tuesday, March 3, 1998

'Shibai' came, outreach went

Trustees turned away from
the at-risk for bogus reasons, says
a former KSBE official

° Spending: Chun rebuts Lokelani Lindsey's
criticisms point by point
° Recusal: Bronster pushes the high court for withdrawal
° Audit: Trustees seeking financial
and management audit.

By Debra Barayuga


Kamehameha Schools programs that targeted teen moms, preschool tots, at-risk students in public schools and diploma-seeking adults gave Hawaiians opportunities they never would have received.

But the programs were not given a chance before being killed by Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate trustees starting in 1995, says Schools President Mike Chun.

Chun's defense, submitted in a report to trustees earlier this year, answers charges by trustee Lokelani Lindsey that few results came despite about $14 million spent by the estate on the programs.

The trustees voted in 1995 to terminate the schools' early-education and outreach programs, opting instead to open four satellite campuses and several preschools. The reasons given: mostly economics, but also jeopardy to the estate's tax-exempt status and the programs' ineffectiveness. Their decision was based on evaluations by corporate psychologist Dr. Paul Ahr and the accounting firm of Ernst & Young.

"What they told us was what we were doing in the early-education or community education was no longer necessary, no longer wanted, no longer effective and that the programs were failures," said Fred Cachola, who had left the Department of Education in 1971 to direct the Kamehameha Schools extension program.

The trustees at that time -- Matsuo Takabuki, Myron "Pinky" Thompson, Richard Lyman, Frank Midkiff and Hung Wo Ching -- instructed Cachola to seek ways to extend Princess Pauahi's legacy into the Hawaiian community and the public schools and raise the achievement profile of Hawaiians.

His marching orders: "Do more for more, as resources will permit."

From 1971 to 1996, "I felt we had proven to the world that Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate indeed could make a major impact on improving the education profiles of part-Hawaiian youngsters and still maintain the beacon on the hill as a place for the best and brightest who wanted to come to Kamehameha and applied," Cachola said.

The case for educational outreach could be made. A 1990 Census report found the 9.1 percent of Hawaiian adults here who complete college was far below the rate of college-educated Hawaiians in California and other parts of the United States and, for the first time, below the rate of blacks nationally.

° Outreach: In 1992-93, 1,000 teachers were helping 31,900 students from preschool to 12th grade and 5,000 more students, adults and teachers

Around that time, however, changes on the KSBE trustee board were bringing changes in philosophy. Turning away from outreach, today's trustees appear more concerned with preserving the estate's tax-exempt status and isolating it from the rest of the community, Cachola said.

That the programs were not cost-effective and risked the schools' tax-exempt status was shibai, he said. "It was the saddest period in the schools' history when we knew Ahr and Ernst & Young were really there to provide trustees with all the rationale they wanted to shut these programs down."

Trustee Oswald Stender later objected to closure of the programs after learning information given trustees was incomplete and lacked input from program staff, said his attorney Crystal Rose.

The Internal Revenue Service was astounded at the breadth of services Kamehameha was offering -- from research involving pregnant Hawaiian teens, to studies on Hawaiians' motivation to learn -- but never said the schools would lose their tax exemption, Cachola said.

The programs dealt with high-risk populations, requiring low student-to-teacher ratios that drove up costs. Development costs also were high since resources and trained staffers were few.

In 1992-93, Cachola said, Kamehameha was operating 106 programs through the state Department of Education: 37 in early education, 69 in community education. More than 1,000 teachers were helping more than 31,900 students from preschool to 12th grade and another 5,000 students, adults and teachers. Kamehameha spent $13.6 million that year, plus another $5.1 million in federal funds.

Kamehameha's Early Education Program (KEEP) for at-risk Hawaiian children in the public schools was very promising, said Rep. Nobu Yonamine, state school board chairman in 1984 when the deal was signed with Kamehameha to bring the program into the elementary schools.

"I thought it was a carefully done way of doing research, collecting data on how kids learn and how teachers teach and coming up with a curriculum," he said.

At its peak, KEEP served more than 3,300 students -- 2,000 of them Hawaiians, said Kathy Tibbetts, program evaluation and planning specialist at Kamehameha Schools. Test scores were showing increases when the project was terminated, she said.

Point - Counterpoint

In a recent report to Bishop Estate trustees, Kamehameha Schools President Michael Chun rebuts criticisms by trustee Lokelani Lindsey. Among the key issues involving spending:


Lindsey: "Expenditures of more than $45,000 per year for Christmas decorations and entertaining at Chun's on-campus home, use of school resources by Chun's wife to host nonrelated school groups, $43,600 to purchase dorm furniture of which 26 are unaccounted for, an additional $35,000 for unauthorized changes to the dorm renovation project and whatever funds were necessary for her campus projects calls for an investigation."

Chun: Since becoming president in 1988, he "believed strongly" that his wife, Bina, would contribute significantly to his leadership. She was involved in areas where she had expertise -- specifically as hostess for social events and restoration of the boarding facilities.

All expenditures mentioned by Lindsey were for items covered by an approved budget. The costs cited for Christmas decorations and entertaining -- part of Chun's approved entertainment budget -- also covered Halloween, boarder dinners and other events for 1994 and 1995. Based on attendance, cost per person was $4.24 in 1994 and $3.58 in 1995.

As for hosting school-unrelated groups, only two or three events over a 10-year period were requested by his wife. Chun agreed to the requests because of the groups' importance in the community and because he wanted their members to see how the schools operate.

Though trustees authorized the budget for dorm furniture replacement and he approved his wife's pick of items at an auction, Chun acknowledged 26 pieces of furniture bought are missing -- "the search continues." Staffers believe some may have been placed on campus elsewhere than the dorms.

While she served on the renovation design committee, Bina Chun did not make unauthorized changes to the dorm renovation project. All committee recommendations were reviewed by Kamehameha staff, the architect, contractor and himself if staffers felt her suggestions were inappropriate.

On personal funds spent on items for school facilities, his wife submits receipts, which are reviewed by staff and authorized before any reimbursement. "Bina has never, in fact, acted as an unauthorized agent of the schools."


Lindsey: "We spend more dollars per student than most other private schools."

Chun:Kamehameha spends more per student than Punahou or Iolani because of the curriculum and programs offered, its students' special needs, the schools' hilltop location and administrative overhead.

In fiscal 1996, Kamehameha Schools spent $16,126, or $422 more per secondary-school student than the average at day-boarding schools, says the National Association of Independent Schools. It also spent $31,648 during the same period per boarding student, $2,119 more than the $28,041 average.

It gives its students free textbooks, fields 113 athletic teams, provides outreach counseling, operates 50 preschool classes statewide, awards merit scholarships or budgets for student travel and activities, or provides bus transportation to and from school. A campus shuttle moves students from class to class because of the steep Kapalama hillside.

Sixty percent of its students are on financial aid, with more than 75 percent from families with annual incomes under $50,000. Also, Kamehameha has its own legal, personnel, communications and budget departments.


Lindsey: "The Kamehameha Early Education Program was not producing positive results for Hawaiian students in the public schools. Third-graders performed below the state average in reading, language and writing skills, according to a 1992-93 study, despite an annual program cost of $5.2 million."

Chun: The program was one of several outreach programs begun in the 1970s to help at-risk Hawaiian students do better in school. Early successes were seen at Pahoa Elementary where first-graders and later second-graders outscored control classes by 20 percentile points on tests. It expanded to other schools, perhaps too quickly.

It became more difficult to show test-score gains as the program quickly grew, particularly after the Department of Education changed its curriculum to model the program. In 1990-91, the curriculum was rewritten and continued through 1992. Teachers were seeing positive results by 1995 when the program was terminated by current trustees.


Lindsey: "The Continuing Education Program was duplicating GED programs in the DOE and University of Hawaii, with far less success. Despite an annual cost of $1.3 million, the GED program graduated only 87 students per year -- only 39 of them Hawaiian. Overall, only 41 percent of students served were Hawaiian."

Chun: Kamehameha's program differed from the DOE and UH ones in that it emphasized Hawaiian values and was flexible to accommodate attendees' schedule demands.

Staffers found that Hawaiians felt more comfortable going to the Kapalama campus for classes, rather than their local high school or community college campus. Because it was difficult to reach 100 percent enrollment by Hawaiians, continuing education was opened up to non-Hawaiians.


Lindsey: "Chun manipulated the budget to award unauthorized financial aid such as $55,000 to the UH Study Abroad Tour in 1993, $47,000 over three years to the Nature Conservancy and overspending by $1.5 million in 1995 and $691,000 in 1996 for aid to Kamehameha and non-Kamehameha students."

Chun: As schools' president, he used "appropriate discretion" to give educational opportunities to Hawaiians and overcommitted needed funds to ensure they were used by as many students as possible.

Funds for the Nature Conservancy in 1995 and 1996 were $26,000, not $47,000, and provided financial aid to four Hawaiian student interns there. Also, $27,000, not $57,000, was spent to support 18 students in the UH Study AbroadTour; all financial aid recipients met requirements of need, Hawaiian ancestry and academic standing.

He did not "manipulate the budget" but did allow the Financial Aid Department to overcommit its budget in 1995 and 1996 based on past underspending of budgeted funds and current industry practices.

"All well-administered post-secondary student financial aid offices award an amount of financial aid in excess of the budgeted amount," Paul Phillips, director of financial aid at California State University, wrote Kamehameha Schools.

Although the financial aid budgets were overspent for 1995 and 1996, the Education Group's budget was not -- and in fact was under budget by $2.3 million and $6.7 million, respectively.


Lindsey: "Kamehameha Schools was not providing adequate access to state of the art technology to students or teachers."

Chun: In the 10 years before the school's Information Systems Division took over the responsibility for technology in 1995, "Kamehameha was at the forefront in the delivery of state of the art technology to students and faculty."

During that period, the schools bought more than 600 computers and installed more than 250 work stations in classrooms and computer labs throughout the campus.

(Lindsey and others, however, point to the lack of computers for the secondary school.

A technology and facilities plan for the schools is on hold until an operational plan that establishes the schools' direction for the next 10 years is completed, said Kekoa Paulsen, Bishop Estate spokesman.

A bigger issue is the lack of computer specialists, said Kathleen Kukea, director of curriculum at the secondary schools. Teachers are being pulled from classroom duties to help users, or labs are closed because no one is available to staff them.)

Not a panacea

The program had merits but was not a panacea for all readers, said Liberato Viduya, then-principal at Nanaikapono Elementary, one of the first Oahu schools picked to participate in the 1970s.

KEEP had a positive impact on students largely because teachers remained focused, Viduya said. As with any language program, "if there's follow-up and teachers are continually focused on language, they will have greater chance of success."

Kamehameha Schools spent millions of dollars on programs in the public schools at no cost to the department, said Viduya, now principal of the Kalihi Community School for Adults. "There's no group I can think of that has been as generous or enthusiastic in providing that partnership to the department over the years."

The outreach programs helped ease the disappointment of thousands of children each year who receive rejection letters from Kamehameha, Cachola said. "We took the school to the child."

When the programs died, some 170 employees, many of whom had been with Kamehameha for more than 20 years, lost their jobs, Cachola said.

Among the efforts started by Kamehameha Schools:

° Four preschools in public schools that would have otherwise closed.

° Parent-infant education for teen moms in communities with large Hawaiian populations and low educational achievement.

° Summer-school programs in 32 DOE schools that offered transportation and morning snacks, and scholarships for Hawaiian students. Because the program used DOE facilities, non-Hawaiians could not be excluded. Thousands of students enrolled, creating a need for a full-time summer program staff.

° One- or two-week leadership, exploration, music and fine-arts summer camps at the Kapalama campus.

° Kamehameha reading experts sent into 12 DOE intermediate schools with high percentages of Hawaiians reading below grade level.

° Counselors sent into public schools to help students cope with problems and resolve situations nonviolently.

° A program for high-schoolers at risk of dropping out. Students at Konawaena and Molokai were taught in nontraditional classrooms at historic, religious sites. At Honaunau, known as the City of Refuge, and a heiau in Molokai, teachers incorporated Hawaiian practices into the curriculum.

° Adult education program at the Kapalama campus that helped adults pass GED exams and also offered classes such as Hawaiian language and computers to families. Also helped the DOE on Maui, Kauai and Molokai beef up their adult programs by designing curriculum and training teachers.

° Hawaiian Studies Institute to develop curriculum, do research and assist teachers of Hawaiian studies.

° Federal funds devoted to native Hawaiians used to establish drug-free intervention programs in public schools.

° A post-high-school and counseling program to provide scholarships for Hawaiians not necessarily attending Kamehameha.

° Native Hawaiian Health Profession Program which provided college grants to Hawaiians to work in the health field.

All early-education and continuing-education programs not offered at the Kapalama campus were terminated. The post-education scholarship program -- which grew to nearly $15 million this year -- the Hawaiian Studies Institute, and the drug-free programs were allowed to continue at the Kapalama campus.

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