Thursday, May 14, 1998

Schools protest rocked
Bishop Estate

The schools' ohana will
march again to oppose recent
trustee actions

By Rick Daysog


It began with modest goals: Restore authority to Kamehameha Schools President Michael Chun and improve communication between alumni members and Bishop Estate trustees.

But when 700 graduates, parents and school supporters took to the streets in peaceful protest May 15 last year, it set off tremors that shook the multibillion-dollar charitable trust and rattled the walls of Hawaii's political and judicial bodies.

The aftershocks: In August, the state attorney general opened an investigation of Bishop Estate's trustees and two months later, the Hawaii Supreme Court announced that it would end its century-long tradition of selecting Bishop Estate trustees.

What's more, the Legislature -- from which two Bishop Estate trustees came -- last week voted to limit the often-criticized, six-figure commissions of trustees.

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Last May 15, supporters of Kamehameha Schools demonstrated
to express their displeasure with what was happening at the school.

"If someone had said a year ago that all of this would have happened, they would have been called crazy," said Randy Roth, trust-law expert and co-author of the "Broken Trust" article that prompted the state's investigation. "It showed that the little guys of the world can band together and actually change the way powerful people do things."

Last year's march marked the end of business-as-usual at the Bishop Estate.

Several march participants -- including Fred Cachola, former director of community education programs at Kamehameha and University of Hawaii professor Lilikala Kame'elehiwa -- believe last year's protest awakened a new activism among members of the Kamehameha Schools ohana.

Parents, alumni and students no longer consider themselves "passive beneficiaries" of the trust. They have assumed a more activist role in improving the educational environment of the schools, said Cachola, who retired last year after 25 years with the estate.

"I think this is the first time in 100 years that the beneficiaries of the Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate decided to question the decision of trustees," added Kame'elehiwa, a 1970 graduate.

"Now we will never go away and we will always be watching what the trustees do."

By Craig T. Kojima, Star-Bulletin
Marchers carried signs showing support for
Kamehameha students and teachers.

In that role, alumni members, parents, local community leaders and Kamehameha Schools teachers will hold an anniversary march tomorrow to protest the recent actions by estate trustees.

The goal: to remind the local community that the job is not done and to protest trustees' tactic to prolong the controversy, organizers said.

Beadie Kanahele Dawson -- attorney for Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi, the grass-roots student, parent and alumni group that organized this year's and last year's marches -- said trustees and their lawyers have purposely dragged out the controversy in the courts to protect their self-interests at the expense of Kamehameha Schools' students.

Despite promises to do so, Dawson added that trustees have not fully restored Chun's authority on campus nor have they renewed "talk story" sessions with concerned alumni and parents.

Kekoa Paulsen, a spokesman for the Bishop Estate, said trustees were exercising the estate's right to due process in court actions.

"The trustees are eager for closure as well, but they're not going to roll over and allow the estate to be ripped apart while they have the fiduciary responsibility for it," he said.

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