Kamehameha retooling to serve more Hawaiians

School CEO on Maui radio show previews policy to be announced today

The Maui News
August 10, 2002

Staff Writer

Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Hamilton McCubbin
Kamehameha Schools Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Hamilton McCubbin,
on Uncle Charlie's KNUI radio show, August 9, 2002

WAILUKU – The Kamehameha Schools trustees have approved changes in the admissions procedures for the Maui campus to allow for more Native Hawaiians to be accepted into the institution.

The school's chief executive officer, Hamilton McCubbin, said details of a new strategic plan will be announced today on Oahu, but he provided insight on the changes during a radio show on Maui Friday.

McCubbin was the guest speaker on the KNUI AM 900 "Talk Story with Uncle Charlie" Maxwell radio show.

McCubbin said procedural changes would be made to reaffirm Kamehameha's standing policy to give preference for school admission to Hawaiian and part-Hawaiian children.

The school plans to remove potential barriers in the admissions process. Such barriers could range from the $25 application fee, which may be waived, to even bigger obstacles, such as the cutoff standard during the evaluation of student candidates.

"Ground rules are going to be different," McCubbin said. The trustees are committed to serving more Native Hawaiians, he said.

While the school will continue to look for the "best and brightest" students, it will also emphasize in its student candidate evaluation the overall potential of each child.

Callers to the radio show weren't all satisfied by McCubbin's comments. In fact, two different women pushed for the reversal of a decision to accept the first non-Hawaiian to the Maui campus for fall 2002.

News of the school's decision to accept Kalani Rosell, a non-Hawaiian 7th-grader from Iao Intermediate School, angered Hawaiians in the community. "It was hard to stomach," Maxwell told McCubbin on Friday.

"Get this boy out," one woman told McCubbin during the radio show. "Then suffer whatever consequences" may come from the reversal.

McCubbin responded by saying he could appreciate the women's perspective but asked for her understanding. He said the trustees will not change their minds about Rosell.

"It wouldn't be appropriate. It wouldn't be fair and it's not ethical," McCubbin said. "We know it's hurtful."

He said trustees have been toiling over several issues relating to the school, including admissions procedures, even before the controversy on Maui surfaced.

He said very few people seem to understand that the school has accepted non-Hawaiians in the past when applications from Native Hawaiians have been exhausted.

In the case of the Maui campus, McCubbin explained there were only 54 applicants for 45 slots. Kamehameha estimates there were 450 possible applicants for the 8th grade alone on Maui.

Teachers reviewed each student's grades, essays and references, and conducted a one-on-one interview.

Nineteen Hawaiians on Maui qualified for the 20 male spots in the 8th grade. Based on the point system guiding teachers at the time, the non-Hawaiian Rosell was the next qualified applicant for the 20th male slot. He was accepted.

The admissions process for the next school year will begin at the end of August, with the school accepting applications for the 2003-04 school year. Slots will be available in kindergarten, 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th grades.

Trustees have agreed to remove any cutoffs during the Maui admissions process for the upcoming school year, McCubbin said. A point system will remain intact, but a previous practice to disqualify students based on a particular score will no longer exist.

Maxwell, who along with 1977 Kamehameha graduate Dr. Maile Jachowski initiated a petition drive, applauded the new changes. "I'm happy. It's the beginning of a new process," he said.

The Maui petition garnered more than 7,000 signatures statewide, asking trustees to change the admissions process so that more Hawaiian children would qualify to attend the Maui campus.

Maxwell said he was appreciative that trustees responded to the people's call. "Now all Hawaiian children will have a chance," he said. "It will definitely be less intimidating."

Maui Kamehameha Alumni Association President Boyd Mossman said his group has agreed to help with recruitment, primarily for applicants in the 9th and 10th grades.

Mossman said he acknowledged that it was difficult to recruit more 8th-grade applicants this past year because many Hawaiian children wanted to stay put at their schools and did not believe that a new campus would give them better athletic and academic opportunities.

Mossman said one of the selling points for next year's high schoolers will be to entice them into the idea of taking a historic step.

"They will be among the first to graduate. They'll be making history," he said.

The Kamehameha Schools trust was established in 1884 by the will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who was the last direct descendent of Kamehameha I.

As the last beneficiary of the Kamehameha estate, the princess specified that it should be used to support two schools, one for girls and one of the boys to be called Kamehameha Schools.

Her will directed the trustees to invest her estate to provide an income to support the schools, "and to devote a portion of each year's income to the support and education of orphans and others in indigent circumstances, giving the preference to Hawaiians of pure or part aboriginal blood."

McCubbin said Kamehameha Schools plans to hold community meetings throughout the state beginning this fall through February. He said trustees want to hear what the community has to say about the changes to admissions procedures.

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Ho`iho`i Mai