Seated, Theodore Kuahine Jr., left, David Kaahanui, Tuata Mauga, Bronson Ahlo and Jaychelle Polendey listened yesterday as their attorney, Eric Seitz, talked about the lawsuit.

Kamehameha Schools
is firm on expulsions

It defends itself against a lawsuit
that involves an alleged sex video

Kamehameha Schools officials say they stand by their decision to expel five students who allegedly made a pornographic video and that a lawsuit by the teenagers has no merit.

In response to a suit filed yesterday in state Circuit Court, the $6 billion trust issued a press release saying that it followed procedures outlined in its student and parent handbook when it dismissed four members of its high school football team and a female student in November. The school started an investigation after learning about an alleged videotape of football players having sex with two female students on the Kapalama Heights campus.

Ray Soon, a Kamehameha vice president, said the investigation was thorough and complete. He acknowledged that school officials never saw a videotape.

"We don't know if a tape exists. We don't have one and we haven't seen it," Soon said. "However ... the evidence required to make a decision is not the same that is required in a court of law, but we have no hesitation about the evidence being sufficient to support the decision that was made."

In their suit, former students Bronson Ahlo, David Kaahanui, Tuata Mauga -- all 18 -- Theodore Kuahine Jr., 17, and Jaychelle Polendey, 16, said they were wrongly expelled. The students -- three of whom graduated from public high schools last year -- denied that they had any role in the alleged video.

"There was no process for these kids. There was no evidence to support what the school did. They were just summarily dismissed," said attorney Eric Seitz, who is representing the students.

School officials said the decision to dismiss the students is final. They declined to discuss the circumstances behind the decision due to the litigation.

"After nearly eight months of discussions, we thought we had reached an agreeable resolution to this issue with the families involved, especially since there is no merit to the complaint that has been filed," the Kamehameha press release said.

The suit, which also named school Headmaster Michael Chun and Principal Anthony Ramos as defendants, alleged that school administrators opened an investigation after they heard rumors about a videotape depicting students having sex in a car on campus.

The administrators later called in students who allegedly viewed the video and threatened them with discipline if they did not cooperate, according to Seitz.

Faculty members who wanted to help the students were discouraged from doing so, Seitz added.

"When you pass down below the Kapalama campus, it's a beautiful institution on the hillside which is the product of decades of work by a lot of people and a lot of money. But when you go up there and deal with that school, you find an institution that is very inconsistent and very hypocritical," Seitz said.

The Kamehameha Schools is a private, nonprofit charity founded by the 1884 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. It educates more than 5,000 students of native Hawaiian ancestry at its Kapalama Heights and neighbor island campuses.

All five students transferred to public schools in their neighborhoods, but the rumors followed them. Polendey said she was often taunted and teased at Castle High School, where she is a junior.

"I'd be walking through the halls, and they would be saying stuff to me," Polendey said.

"It hurt. It made me feel like I did something when I didn't," she said.

The four male students were suspended from the football team on the eve of the school's big game with rival Saint Louis School.

"Ever since then I haven't really done anything. I laid around the house and moped," said Mauga, who graduated from Aiea High School last year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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