Saturday, December 12, 1998

Kamehameha Schools
‘resisted change’

Freitas tells the court hearing
the Lindsey trial that suggestions
met widespread hostility

By Rick Daysog


A top official at Kamehameha Schools said yesterday there was widespread hostility to changes at the Kapalama Heights campus.

In his second day of testimony in the trial seeking to remove Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey, Kamehameha Schools Vice President Rockne Freitas said teachers and staffers often resisted new programs or directives that administrators wanted to implement.

"I encountered resistance not only to the idea of change, but to the idea that questions are being asked," Freitas said. "It was very defensive."

Freitas' testimony before Circuit Judge Bambi Weil came as the trial heads into its second month.

Fellow trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis are seeking Lindsey's removal on the grounds that she mismanaged the estate-run Kamehameha Schools, abused her powers and is unfit to serve as a board member of the 114-year-old charitable trust.

Lindsey's attorneys, David Gierlach and Michael Green, are attempting to show that Lindsey was a victim of a campus culture that aimed to preserve the status quo. They argue that staffers turned on her when she attempted to reform the school's educational programs.

Freitas said he faced widespread resistance when he attempted to introduce programs that would help students.

In 1995 during school-sponsored retreats, for instance, Freitas said, he faced opposition from high school teachers when he discussed a program to nurture National Merit scholars.

National Merit scholarships are awarded to 7,400 of the country's top students each year.

"Initially, I got hostility from every quarter," Freitas said. "I was shocked because 'National Merit scholar' is not a bad word."

Freitas, a 1963 Kamehameha graduate and a former professional football player, said he believes much of the resistance to change was fueled by the estate's decision to eliminate many of the school's outreach programs in 1995.

The program cuts led to 170 job layoffs.

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