Thursday, March 19, 1998

Report says trustees
create fearful climate

It recommends a governing body
separate from Bishop Estate

By Rod Ohira

Bishop Estate trustees' management has produced an "oppressive, intimidating, and fearful" professional climate at Kamehameha Schools, according to a national schools accreditation report.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges praises Kamehameha's faculty, curriculum and students. But the report, released yesterday, notes that "governance and decision-making is not serving much of the secondary school well."

Trustees have openly undervalued, if not scorned, the professional expertise, talent and commitment of the nonadministrative staff, the report said.

It noted:

"Part of the difficulty is that there is no clear articulation of the role of the Board, its relations to administration and faculty, or which leadership/management functions are delegated to the president.

"In such a vacuum, it was possible for trustee involvement in the school to become micromanagement, as it has been in recent years."

Beadie Dawson, an attorney representing Na Pua A Ke Alii Pauahi, said the report is "an incredible validation of what the teachers have been saying.

"I think it validates their efforts to correct things at the school. For a long time they felt that there were alone out there because the trustees and the administration weren't listening to them in terms of governance where there needed to be exchange of inmput from the faculty into the administration of the school."

Dawson, whose group includes 2,700 students, parents, and alumni, said the only critical part of the report was "the lack of participation by the trustees in the knowledge of the school's governance."

She added: "I think that is the most alarming piece. In the entire report it's the only area that is critical of the school and they have called for a special assessment of the trustees."

Doug Carlson, spokesman for trustee Lokelani Lindsey, said she hadn't received a copy of the report and declined comment.

Kekoa Paulsen, Bishop Estate/Kamehamhea Schools spokesman, said none of the five trustees had seen the report.

The nine-member team, which evaluated the school last week, recommends that the governance structure for Kamehameha Schools should be separate from the body needed to manage the assets, business affairs and legal affairs of Bishop Estate.

The team also recommended that an outside organization, such as the National Association of Independent Schools, assist in redesigning the governance structure.

The 50-page report cited several examples of trustees' decisions that were harmful, such as changing multiyear faculty contracts to one-year contracts, excluding faculty and staff from the 1997 Education Strategic Plan, and allowing vice principals rather than department heads to evaluate faculty performance.

"Dysfunctional management and decision-making has weakened leadership, destroyed the professional morale of the faculty, severely damaged the professional climate for learning and teaching, and provided bad lessons for students with respect to behavior of adults, integrity, care for people, and justice," the report said.

"Of all the consequences . . . perhaps the most telling is the intention of the faculty, out of desperation, to consider forming a union."

The evaluation team found little evidence of the Hawaiian values of pono (to be moral and proper), laulima (to work cooperatively), na'au pono (to possess a deep sense of justice), and malama (to care for each other) stated in the school's mission statement in the governance and decision-making of the trustees.

The board was "out of touch" with the secondary school and focused on bottom-line financial outcomes, test scores, and college matriculation rather than a concern for the people and programs at Kamehameha, the report said.

The team noted that Kamehameha's secondary school has recruited and maintained a highly qualified and conscientious staff.

It also noted that standardized test scores have steadily improved in recent years and are substantially above the national averages.

"There is a clear understanding by all stakeholders of the college preparatory focus of the school," the report said.

Star-Bulletin reporter Gregg Kakesako contributed to this report.

Members of the accreditation team

Here are the members of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges team that evaluated Kamehameha Schools:

Dr. Tod Anton, chairman: California State University (Stockton), professor of school administration

Catherine Bankston: Hawaii Baptist Academy, English teacher

The Rev. David Kennedy: St. Andrew's Priory, headmaster emeritus

Deborah Hall: Iolani School, director of special programs

Dr. Patsy Izumo: St. Clement's School, director

Gail Ann Lee: Mililani High, curriculum coordinator

Thomas Reed: Le Jardin Academy, interim headmaster

Dr. Judith Timbers: Varsity International School, principal

Carl Wheeler: Mid-Pacific Institute, math teacher

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