Aloha mai kākou,
This afternoon we filed a lawsuit in the Third Circuit Court of the State of Hawai'i against John and Jane Doe for breach of confidentiality in the settlement agreement reached in May 2007 in Doe vs. Kamehameha Schools, the lawsuit challenging our admissions preference policy.
Kamehameha Schools is seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages based on comments made to the Honolulu Advertiser by one of the Does’ attorneys, John Goemans, in February of this year. Under the terms of the agreement, the Does agreed to be held liable for any breaches of confidentiality by their legal counsel. This includes Goemans, who was one of the attorneys of record throughout the four-year-long litigation.
After Goemans’ disclosure, Eric Grant filed a complaint and the Does filed cross claims in the U.S. District Court in Sacramento, California. Grant asked the court to declare that he has no liability to Kamehameha Schools or the Does for breach of the settlement agreement; the Does sought to enjoin Kamehameha Schools from disclosing their identities. We have filed a motion in Sacramento to dismiss both claims based on lack of jurisdiction.
In a separate and unrelated action, Kamehameha Schools has received a demand letter from Eric Grant and Honolulu attorney David Rosen on behalf of four unnamed applicants who claim they were denied admission to our campus programs under our admissions preference policy. In the letter, Grant and Rosen declared their intent to file suit against Kamehameha Schools if we refuse to admit their unnamed potential plaintiffs. Clearly, we cannot comply. We have no idea if any of the students qualified for admission, or even applied to our campus programs.
We expect a new lawsuit to be filed at any time.
In their demand letter, Grant and Rosen assert the same argument Grant used in the Doe vs. Kamehameha Schools lawsuit: that our preference policy violates section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which was enacted to protect newly freed slaves from discrimination in contracts.
It is deeply disturbing to see a Civil Rights law enacted to protect an oppressed population used to undermine Pauahi’s desire to restore the vitality and health of her people, who were dispossessed in their own homeland. The stories of Pauahi tell of her love for Hawai'i, and her husband Charles Reed Bishop spoke eloquently of the urgent sense of kuleana that led her to bequeath her private estate to provide for the education of her children, just as we will someday leave what we have to ours. These attorneys and their plaintiffs attack more than Kamehameha Schools and our mission; it is an attack on our history, our heritage and the values of Hawai'i, held by so many here and around the world.
We enter into this battle from a position of strength, well-prepared to defend our admissions policy and with legal precedent at the 9th Circuit Court level on our side.
In Doe vs. Kamehameha Schools, both the U.S. District Court in Honolulu and the 9th Circuit En Banc Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld the legality of our policy. Both courts recognized our unique history and the importance of our mission, which is to improve the capability and well-being of native Hawaiians through education. The appeals court also acknowledged that Congress has recognized a special trust relationship with native Hawaiians as the indigenous people of these islands who were stripped of their sovereignty by the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy. The court found that Congress did not intend for section 1981 to bar educational programs provided by KS to native Hawaiians to remedy severe educational imbalances.
By resolving Doe vs. Kamehameha, we established the U.S. 9th Circuit En Banc Court of Appeals ruling as binding precedent in all courts in the 9th Circuit. Eric Grant and David Rosen have a steep uphill battle ahead of them.
As the intended beneficiaries of Pauahi’s legacy, each of you is a powerful ambassador against the cultural insensitivity and ignorance of history that motivates these ongoing legal challenges. You can explain Pauahi’s vision for our people better than anyone, for she was motivated by the stories of your `ohana. We urge you to tell your story to as many people who will listen, in whichever forum you feel is most comfortable.
Many of our collaborators, Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian, already speak compellingly of the importance of the work performed at Kamehameha, and we take heart in the outpouring of support from all who know that our policy is pono. We will stand steadfast as we continue to extend the reach of this legacy to as many of Pauahi’s intended beneficiaries as we can.
Board of Trustees:
Nainoa Thompson, Chair
Chief Executive Officer
Dee Jay Mailer