WAILUKU — A statewide petition drive that is aiming to give more Hawaiians the opportunity to attend the Kamehameha Schools has been extended through next week.
Two petition organizers on Maui, Dr. Maile Jachowski and Native Hawaiian cultural specialist Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell Sr., said they extended the time to collect signatures at the request of supporters around the state who wanted more time to reach people.
The petition has been circulated throughout the state and on the Mainland as far as Washington, D.C., where alumni there are rallying support.
The petition asks that the Kamehameha Schools trustees change the admissions policies so that more Hawaiian children will qualify to attend the school’s campuses.
The school’s Chief Executive Officer Hamilton McCubbin has already agreed to review admissions policies and recommend improvements where warranted.
The petition drive began Monday in response to last week’s announcement that the first non-Hawaiian student has been invited to join the 8th grade this fall at the Kamehameha Maui campus in Pukalani.
The student, Kalani Rosell, had been attending Iao Intermediate School, where he earned straight A’s in his last quarter as a 7th-grader. Rosell’s father, John, said he intends to accept Kamehameha’s invitation even with the outcry over the decision to allow a non-Hawaiian to attend the school.
Both Maxwell and Jachowski said they’ve been fielding numerous calls from around the state from people who asked to be given copies of the petition with promises to seek more signatures.
Neither Maxwell nor Jachowski could say how many signatures have been collected so far.
Among those who’ve signed the petition is Liane Dickson, a Wailuku woman who said Rosell was chosen over her own son. “That kid has my son’s position,” Dickson said Wednesday.
Dickson said she was disappointed when she learned her son was rejected by Kamehameha for the third time in as many tries. She described her son as an “average student” who’s never been in trouble in school and is involved in sports.
Dickson said she was hopeful that her son would get an invitation to attend Kamehameha this year. She based her hopes on encouraging recommendations from his sports coaches, his teachers and an interview that she said her son was told was “excellent.”
According to Dickson, there were only 64 applicants for 44 positions for the 8th grade, compared to 112 applicants for 48 available slots for the 7th grade, and 161 applicants for 21 slots for the 6th grade.
“I thought we had a good chance,” Dickson said.
Dickson’s youngest child was invited to join kindergarten at the Maui campus this fall, and her middle youngster, who tested for the 2nd grade, has been placed on Kamehameha’s waiting list.
Dickson said she holds no grudges toward the Rosells. But she said the decision to let Kalani Rosell in eliminated the chance for an average Hawaiian student like her son to get accepted.
Radio personality Boy Kana‘e said he also signed the petition and believes more Hawaiians should be given an opportunity to enroll at Kamehameha. He said school officials have lost sight of the intent of a trust established in 1884 by the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. In addition to founding the schools for boys and girls, her will directed that a portion of the income be used to provide for children who are orphans or indigent, “giving the preference to Hawaiians of pure and part aboriginal blood.”
“They’re forgetting it’s not the quality of the people, but the enhancement and lifestyle of educating our Hawaiian children that’s important,” Kana‘e said.
The princess also gave the trustees the power to change regulations to run the school and alter admissions policies.
Maxwell and Jachowski plan to fly to Oahu on July 25 to present the petitions in person to Kamehameha Trustee Bob Kihune at the trustees’ Honolulu office.
Maxwell also plans to host the ousted trustee, Lokelani Lindsey, on his radio show “Talk Story with Uncle Charlie” from 10 a.m. to noon Friday on KNUI AM 900. Phone calls will be accepted.
For the Maui petition drive, a table with papers for people to sign will remain available at the Kahului Shopping Center from 4 to 8 p.m. today and Friday; noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; and 4 to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.
Maxwell asks that all petitions be submitted to him or Jachowski by Wednesday. Call Maxwell at 572-8038.