Confidential Agreement Preserves Policy Offering Admissions Preference to Native Hawaiians
HONOLULU — The Trustees of the Kamehameha Schools have settled Doe vs. Kamehameha Schools, the four-year-old lawsuit challenging the Schools' admissions preference policy. As a result of the settlement, the plaintiff has withdrawn his petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the 9th Circuit Court's ruling upholding Kamehameha's 120-year-old policy of offering preference to applicants of Hawaiian ancestry. Terms of the settlement will not be disclosed.
"This settlement protects our right to offer admissions preference to Native Hawaiians," declared J. Douglas Ing, chairman of the Board of Trustees. "The Circuit Court ruling stands – our legal right to offer preference to Hawaiian applicants is preserved. Our work to fulfill our mission and Pauahi's vision, on our campuses and in our communities, can proceed without distraction."
"The settlement also preserves Judge William Fletcher's concurring opinion that Native Hawaiians have political status as an Indigenous people," continued Ing. "Preserving this opinion is important, because it recognizes the Federal Government's obligation to the Native people of Hawaii and provides judicial support for programs that serve to promote and improve the well-being of the Hawaiian people."
The unidentified plaintiff, known as "John Doe," sued Kamehameha Schools in June 2003. He has since graduated from high school and is currently attending college, according to his attorney, Eric Grant.
A 15-judge appeals court panel upheld Kamehameha's admissions policy on December 5, 2006, affirming a 2003 decision by Federal District Court Judge Alan Kay. The appeals panel ruled 8-7 that Kamehameha has a legal right to offer admissions preference to Native Hawaiian applicants as a way to remedy past harms and current imbalances suffered by the Indigenous people of Hawaii as a result of Western contact. The panel majority also found that Congress has recognized it has a special trust relationship with Native Hawaiians by enacting more than 85 statutes to fund programs designed to improve Hawaiian well being.
"As a Native Hawaiian trust, we will stand strong with other organizations and individuals to protect our assets," said Kamehameha Schools CEO Dee Jay Mailer. "And as an Educational institution, we will move ahead with speed and diligence to extend our reach into our communities to more Native Hawaiian children and families, as our Princess intended. We have made significant gains in the number of children and families we serve in the past year, and we are ready to do more."
Kamehameha Schools is a private, educational, charitable trust founded and endowed by the legacy of Bernice Pauahi Bishop. Kamehameha Schools operates a statewide educational system enrolling more than 6,700 students of Hawaiian ancestry at K-12 campuses on O'ahu, Maui and Hawai'i and 30 preschool sites statewide. Thousands of additional Hawaiian learners are served each year through a range of other Kamehameha Schools' outreach programs, community collaborations and financial aid opportunities in Hawai'i and across the continental United States. Through such community collaborations, whole communities are served by this legacy, Hawaiians and others alike, so that the entire State of Hawai'i benefits.