Tuesday, March 10, 1998

Trustees must
hand over
school records

The state inquiry into Bishop Estate trustees'
influence on admissions at Kamehameha
Schools can proceed

By Rick Daysog

A state judge has ordered the Bishop Estate to hand over Kamehameha Schools' admissions records to the state attorney general by May 1.

Circuit Judge Kevin Chang, in denying an estate motion to quash a subpoena, said that instances where Bishop Estate trustees may have exerted influence on Kamehameha Schools admissions could "indicate a breach of their fiduciary duties."

Attorney General Margery Bronster had subpoenaed the admissions records between Jan. 1, 1995, and Jan. 1, 1998, in her investigation into allegations of financial mismanagement and breaches of fiduciary duties by individual trustees of the Bishop Estate.

The subpoena is a follow-up to a December report by the estate's court-appointed fact finder Patrick Yim, who said that trustees influenced elementary school admissions. The Yim report also noted that the school's admissions director instructed admission committee members to place preferential red dots next to applicants' names, regardless of their qualifications.

Larry Goya, senior deputy attorney general, argued that instances where trustees exerted influence on applications could indicate misapplications of Kamehameha School funds.

Goya noted that each student receives about $18,000 in subsidies a year to attend Kamehameha Schools and nearly all of that money comes from the Bishop Estate.

William McCorriston, Bishop Estate's attorney, described the subpoena as a "monumental fishing expedition" and said he would recommend to trustees that they appeal Chang's decision to the state Supreme Court.

McCorriston noted that the subpoena was overly broad, requiring the estate to produce some 160,000 pages of records for some 15,000 Kamehameha Schools applicants.

The subpoenas also were misapplied since the law under which they were issued require "violations of law," McCorriston said. There are no such violations alleged in the state subpoenas, he said.

The estate had argued that the release of the information may violate federal laws governing students' rights to privacy.

The estate is required to post due notice to students and parents, who can object to the release of any information about the students, the trust has said. But under Chang's ruling, the estate will have to provide students and parents notice by April 17.

Any information turned over to the estate also would be subject to protective orders preserving students' confidentiality.

Today's ruling comes after the state had subpoenaed Wayne Chang, Kamehameha Schools' admissions director, about the schools' policies.

Chang was interviewed by state attorneys for about five hours several weeks ago but later refused to answer questions when asked whether some applicants received preferential treatment.

Chang - who has since agreed to continue his interview with state attorneys on March 27 - had been concerned bout violating students' and parents' privacy rights.

Experts testing
the schools

The accreditation team will judge
how well the students are doing

By Debra Barayuga

Kamehameha Schools are under the microscope this week as a team of educators evaluates how successfully students are learning.

Grades nine to 12 are undergoing the second phase of accreditation - a 31/2-day visit by a visiting committee to evaluate the schools' self-study of its strengths, weaknesses and plans.

Kamehameha Schools President Michael Chun in December gave a snapshot of how well students are doing academically, in response to a report by Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey criticizing student performance and school expenditures.

The accreditation visit will provide an outside perspective by fellow educators on how well Kamehameha students are meeting expected learning outcomes and whether the school is doing enough.

"Accreditation is about good schools getting better," said Robert Witt, executive director of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools, which is assisting the visiting team. "This is meant to be a learning experience - everyone benefits from this."

The nine-member visiting team, all veteran educators with 20 or more years experience, will visit classrooms, talk to as many students, teachers and staff as possible and review student work. They will work until Thursday.

Before the team leaves, it will give oral highlights of its findings to faculty. Its written report and recommendations will be turned over to the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in San Francisco, which will make the decision, expected in June, on a term of accreditation.

The group, which arrived at the Kapalama Heights campus yesterday, is made up of English and math teachers, curriculum coordinators, a headmaster and principal from the private and public schools. All are from Hawaii except for the committee's chairman, Tod A. Anton, professor of advanced studies at California State University at Stockton.

The association revised its process in 1995 to focus on what students are learning, rather than what is being taught.

"They are not as interested as they were before in what the student-to-teacher ratios are, degrees the faculty have, or how big each of the classrooms are," said Marguerite Asford, head librarian at Punahou School, which underwent an accreditation visit last week.

"I expect a good accreditation report," said Tony Ramos, principal of the secondary schools at Kamehameha. "We have a fine school here. Faculty and teachers are excellent. Students do great and go on to do great things."

This is Kamehameha's sixth accreditation.

In the past, Kamehameha Schools has always received the longest possible term of six years, said Kukea.

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