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July 2014
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Statement from Kamehameha Schools Board of Trustees Chair Diane Plotts

The first thing we want to say emphatically is that this is not over. There are thousands of children of Hawaiian ancestry who need an opportunity for a quality education, and it is our Kuleana to find a way to continue to do that.

We believe wholeheartedly that the ruling issued today by the 9th Circuit Court panel is wrong, and our legal team is already preparing our appeal.

This is obviously a very emotional day at Kamehameha Schools. We had hoped the panel would agree with District Judge Alan Kay: that our policy is legally justified because we are a private institution which exists to correct harms of the past.

All three of the judges acknowledged that our policy serves a remedial purpose. Two judges on the panel felt that is not justified because it effectively excludes all non-Hawaiians. Chief Judge Susan Graber disagreed, and we are heartened by her dissent.

Judge Graber argued the many statutes enacted by Congress to provide exclusive remedial preferences for Native Hawaiians demonstrates their support of our policy. She said – quote – “Congress clearly meant to allow the private education of native Hawaiian children at the Kamehameha Schools.”

This case raises questions of law that have never been considered before. There are 28 members of the Appeals, and we believe that we have a good chance of drawing a panel that will agree with Judge Graber and support our right to offer preference. So we will ask for a hearing before an 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court. And if we have to, we will go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the meantime, there is an automatic stay of the ruling in effect, and we will seek to extend that stay while we appeal the Ninth Circuit Court’s decision.