Wednesday, November 11, 1998

under siege,
ex-student testifies

Witnesses at Lindsey's hearing tell
of harm done by the trustee

By Susan Kriefels


Tomi Chong, a student of 13 years at Kamehameha Schools, broke out in tears yesterday as she talked about her love for the schools.

She testified before Circuit Judge Bambi Weil that the schools were "under siege and being harmed as we speak. I have a personal commitment to make what is wrong right."

Chong is an executive officer of Na Pua a Ke Ali'i Pauahi Inc., an organization representing beneficiaries of the Kamehameha Schools and Bishop Estate.

She was one of two witnesses yesterday to take the stand in a hearing on the removal of Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey.

Charlene Hoe, one of four designated representatives for Na Kumu o Kamehameha, also testified in the daylong hearing. Na Kumu is an organization of 225 teachers, staff and administrators at the schools.

Na Kumu supports the temporary removal of all five Bishop Estate trustees.

Hoe, an art teacher, said one reason Na Kumu was started last year was because there was no channel to send staff concerns up the chain of command.

Teachers also felt a need for protection after their five-year contracts were cut to one year, and a handbook became more "restrictive and onerous," Hoe said.

Na Kumu sent the trustees two letters asking to meet with them about their frustrations and concerns but got no response.

"There was definitely a sense of fear and intimidation," Hoe said. "There seemed to be edicts from nowhere and we were expected to follow with no clarifications."

Na Kumu was concerned about reprimands, Hoe said.

Trustees Gerard Jervis and Oswald Stender petitioned the state courts to remove Lindsey from the estate's five-member board nearly a year ago. Opening arguments started Monday.

The proceedings are separate from a petition by state Attorney General Margery Bronster that seeks the permanent removal of Lindsey, Richard Wong and Henry Peters.

Stender's attorney accused Lindsey of using estate funds inappropriately, which Lindsey's attorneys denied.

Roy Benham, president of Kamehameha Schools Alumni Association for the Oahu region, is scheduled to testify at the hearing, which resumes tomorrow.

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