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Kamehameha Schools
The Kamehameha Schools' seal.
I Mua Kamehameha
Forward, Kamehameha
1887 Makuakāne Street
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, 96817
United States
Type Independent
Primary and Secondary
Religious affiliation Protestant[1]
Established 1887
Founder Bernice Pauahi Bishop
Grades Preschool to 12
Gender Coeducational
Campus Kapālama, Pukalani, Keaʻau
Campus Urban
Fight song I Mua Kamehameha
Mascot Warriors
Accreditation(s) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
Newspaper Ka Mōʻī
Yearbook Ka Naʻi Aupuni
Distinctions Largest endowment of all secondary schools in the United States. At the end of the 2007 fiscal year, the endowment was estimated at $9 billion.[2]

Kamehameha Schools, formerly called Kamehameha Schools/Bishop Estate (KSBE), is a private co-educational college-preparatory institution in Hawaiʻi that operates three campuses: Kapālama (Oʻahu), Pukalani (Maui), and Keaʻau (Hawaiʻi island). Kamehameha serves over 6,500 students from preschool through the twelfth grade. Kamehameha was established in 1887 under the terms of the will[3] of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a direct descendant of King Kamehameha the Great and last living member of the House of Kamehameha. Bishop's will established a trust called the "Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate" that is Hawaiʻi's largest private landowner.[4]

The schools' controversial admissions policy prefers applicants with Native Hawaiian ancestry and has excluded all but two non-Hawaiians from attending since 1965. A lawsuit challenging the school's admission policy resulted in a narrow victory for Kamehameha in the Ninth Circuit Court; however, Kamehameha ultimately settled, paying the plaintiff $7 million.[4]



In 1883, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop directed that the remainder of her estate, mostly inherited from her cousin Princess Ruth Keʻelikōlani, be held in trust "to erect and maintain in the Hawaiian Islands two schools... one for boys and one girls, to be known as and called the Kamehameha Schools." She named five trustees to invest her estate at their discretion, use the income to operate the schools, and also: 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.

She also directed the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court to appoint replacement trustees and all teachers be Protestant, without regard to denomination.[3]

After Bishop's death in 1884, her husband Charles Reed Bishop carried out her will. Reverend William Brewster Oleson (1851–1915), former principal of the Hilo boarding school founded by David Belden Lyman in 1836, helped organize the schools on a similar model.[5]:46 The original Kamehameha School for Boys opened in 1887 on a site currently occupied by Bishop Museum. The girls' school opened in 1894 nearby. By 1955 both schools moved to their current 2.4-square-kilometre (590-acre) headquarters in Kapālama Heights.



In 1992, the clause that all Kamehameha Schools teachers must be Protestant was challenged as illegal religious discrimination in employment by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a decision of the district court, and found that the school did not prove that it was "primarily religious", and thus this clause violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[6]


Before 1997, the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court appointed trustees. Many Bishop Estate trustees in recent history were former government leaders. In 1997 trustees were paid $800,000 to $900,000 annually.

At that time, critics alleged that the trustees were micromanaging the schools. Trustees were appointed "lead trustee" of a particular part of estate operations. In particular, Lokelani Lindsey, lead trustee for educational affairs, was blamed for low morale among students and faculty.

On August 9, 1997, University of Hawaiʻi (UH) Board of Regents Chair Gladys Brandt, retired judge Walter Heen, Msgr. Charles Kekumano, federal judge Samuel Pailthorpe King, and UH professor Randall Roth published a report titled "Broken Trust" in the Honolulu Star Bulletin which, among other things, called on the State Attorney General to fully investigate KSBE management. The report alleged, among other things, that:

  • the method of selecting trustees (appointment by the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court) was flawed
  • the trustees did not fully understand their responsibilities
  • the trustees were not accountable for their actions.[7]

On August 12, 1997, Governor Ben Cayetano directed Attorney General Margery Bronster to perform a preliminary investigation into the allegations. In her report on September 10, 1997, she found that "the rights of the beneficiaries may be at substantial risk," and that there were "credible allegations that the intent of Bernice Pauahi Bishop is not being implemented." [8]

The investigation continued through 1998, when Bronster sought the permanent removal of Lindsey and fellow trustees Richard Wong and Henry Peters. On May 6, 1999, after a six-month trial, Lindsey was permanently removed as trustee (Lindsey later appealed her removal). A day later, trustees Wong, Peters, and Gerard Jervis were also temporarily removed. The fifth trustee, Oswald Stender, voluntarily resigned. An interim board was appointed by the Probate Court to run the estate.

The investigation proved to be costly for Bronster, whose renomination to her post was defeated by the State Senate on April 28, 1999 by a vote of 14-11.

Jervis resigned permanently on August 20, 1999. The trials for permanent removal of the remaining three trustees were set for December 13, 1999. Wong offered his permanent resignation on December 3, 1999; Peters did the same on December 13; and Lindsey voluntarily resigned on December 17.

Campuses and governance

Kamehameha Schools operates three campuses, which together served 5,372 students K-12 in 2008.[9] The main campus, established in 1887 as the Kamehameha Schools for Boys, occupies 600 acres on Kapālama Heights and serves 3,196 students[10], including 550 boarding students from neighbor islands. The Maui campus, established in 1996 in Pukalani, serves 1,084 students. The campus on the island of Hawaiʻi, established in 2001 in Keaʻau, serves 1,118 students. In addition to three campuses, Kamehameha Schools operates thirty-two preschools throughout Hawaiʻi. Preschools serve over 1,000 students statewide.[10]

The five-member Board of Trustees of the Estate of Bernice Pauahi Bishop administers the Schools. The 1999 reorganization limited Board micromanagement. A Chief Executive Officer manages day-to-day operations and has autonomy over educational matters.

Bishop's original bequest consisted of 375,000 acres (1,520 km2) of land worth around $474,000. As of June 2008, the endowment was US$9.4 billion, but by the end of the year it was estimated down to $7.7 billion. Approximately 75% of the endowment is in financial assets, and 25% is in real estate; over 365,000 acres (1,480 km2) remain. However, the book value of the land for accounting purposes is probably much lower than fair market value.[9] When compared against the endowments of major U.S. colleges and universities, only six schools (Harvard University, Yale University, Stanford University, Princeton University, Duke University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology), each with much higher enrollments, have higher endowments than Kamehameha Schools.[citation needed]

Admissions policy

In accordance with a century-old interpretation of the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the Kamehameha Schools prefers applicants of Native Hawaiian descent "to the extent permitted by law." Orphans and indigents get special consideration.[11] Preference applicants must submit evidence verifying that at least one of their pre-1959 ancestors is Hawaiian.[12]

Admissions policy has been a subject of controversy. Because far more applicants claim Hawaiian ancestry than the schools can admit, virtually all students have some Hawaiian blood. Non-Hawaiians have attended, but this is extremely rare. In 2002, Kamehameha admitted one non-Hawaiian student, Kalani Rosell, to its Maui campus, for the first time in 40 years. Rosell was admitted after all qualified Hawaiian applicants had been admitted. This decision sparked community and alumni protest.

Kamehameha's admissions policy was the focus of two federal lawsuits. They contended that preferring Native Hawaiians is a race-based exclusion that violates U.S. civil rights law. Both lawsuits have since settled.

Mohica-Cummings lawsuit

The plaintiff in one suit, filed by attorney John Goemans in August 2003, was Brayden Gay Mohica-Cummings, a seventh-grader admitted to Kapālama Heights after his mother, who had been adopted by a Hawaiian family, said he was Hawaiian. The school rescinded its offer when his mother was unable to document his ancestry.[13] Because Kamehameha rescinded the offer only a week before the school year started, District Judge David Ezra issued a temporary restraining order requiring Kamehameha to admit Mohica-Cummings. The case was settled out-of-court in November 2003, when Kamehameha Schools agreed to let Mohica-Cummings attend, in exchange for dropping the lawsuit.[13]

John Doe v. Kamehameha

Another lawsuit, filed by Goemans in June 2003 on behalf of an unidentified non-Hawaiian student, claimed that preferring Hawaiian applicants violates a federal statute prohibiting racial discrimination in private contracts. In November, District Judge Alan Kay dismissed the lawsuit, finding that Kamehameha Schools' policy served a "legitimate, remedial purpose by improving native Hawaiians' socioeconomic and educational disadvantages".[14]

In August 2005, however, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit of Appeals reversed 2–1, ruling the policy racially exclusionary.[15] Native Hawaiians and also many non-Hawaiians in the community expressed strong dismay at the decision. A protest march to ʻIolani Palace and rally on the palace grounds attracted an estimated 10–15,000 participants,[16] including Hawaiʻi's governor and lieutenant governor.[17]

The Ninth Circuit agreed to rehear the appeal before a 15-judge en banc panel in February 2006.[18] On December 5, 2006, by a vote of 8–7, the en banc panel reversed the earlier decision by the three-judge panel, affirming Kay's ruling.

The majority ruled that Kamehameha's policy does not run afoul of a civil rights law, citing what it said were unique factors in the history of Hawaiʻi, the plight of Native Hawaiians and the schools' distinctively remedial mission, which Congress has repeatedly endorsed. The dissent stated that civil rights law "prohibits a private school from denying admission to prospective students because of their race", and was very skeptical of the majority interpretation, stating, "The fact that Congress has passed some measures promoting Native Hawaiian education says nothing about whether Congress intended to exempt Native Hawaiian schools from § 1981 [civil rights law]".

Following the decision, attorneys appealed to the United States Supreme Court. However, before the Supreme Court decided whether to hear the case, Doe v. Kamehameha was also settled. Both this settlement and the Ninth Circuit's decision prompted a procession at the Kapalama High School, leading to an all-school assembly. On February 8, 2008, Goemans disclosed that the amount of the settlement was $7 million USD.[4]

On August 6, 2008, Kamehameha announced that it had sued John Doe for releasing the settlement amount.[19] On the same day, John Doe's attorneys, Eric Grant and David Rosen, filed another lawsuit against Kamehameha on behalf of four non-Hawaiian children who wanted to attend the school.[20]

Hawaiian studies

As the only private school to prefer Native Hawaiian students, Kamehameha emphasizes Hawaiian language and culture. The Kapālama High School offers a six-year program in Hawaiian language and various supplementary courses in Hawaiian literature, culture, history, song composition and performance, chant, and dance.

Kamehameha offers a distance learning program for learning Hawaiian culture over the Internet. The program includes a series of instructional videos entitled Kulāiwi for learning the Hawaiian language that are available for free online streaming.[21]

Kamehameha also operates Kamehameha Publishing, which prints and sells Hawaiian books, posters, and multimedia.[22]

Song Contest

Kamehameha Schools Kapālama holds the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest. Each graduating class participates as a graduation requirement, singing Hawaiian songs. Each class sings a coed song, while students in grades 10-12 sing a men's and women's song. Five judges evaluate the musical performance and use of the Hawaiian language. Following the singing portion, the ʻike, an exhibition of hula and song, takes place.

The most recent Contest was held on March 20, 2009 and honored the music of John Kameaaloha Almeida, a Hawaiian musician who composed over 200 songs. The ninetieth Contest will be held on March 19, 2010.

School song

Be strong and ally ye, oh sons of Hawaiʻi
And nobly stand together hand in hand.
All dangers defy ye, oh sons of Hawaiʻi
And bravely serve your own, your fatherland. Ring, ring, Kalihi, ring
Swell the echo of our song.
Ray, ray, ray, ray, ray, rah, ray, ray,
Let hills and valleys loud our song prolong. Be firm and deny ye, oh sons of Hawaiʻi
Allurements that your race will overwhelm.
Be true and rely ye, oh sons of Hawaiʻi
On God, the prop and pillar of your realm.[23]

Notable alumni

See also


  1. ^ "Kamehameha Schools Admissions: Religious affiliations". Retrieved 8 February 2010. 
  2. ^ "Endowment Figures". New York Times. January 25, 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  3. ^ a b "Will and Codicils of Ke Ali'i Bernice Pauahi Paki Bishop". Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  4. ^ a b c Jim Dooley (February 8, 2008). "Kamehameha Schools settled lawsuit for $7M". The Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  5. ^ Annual report. Volume 63. The Hawaiian Mission Children's Society. 1915. 
  6. ^ United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (March 31, 1993). "Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Kamehameha Schools/bishop Estate, 990 F.2d 458". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  7. ^ Samuel King, Msgr. Charles Kekumano, Walter Heen, Gladys Brandt and Randall Roth (August 9, 1997). "Broken Trust: The community has lost faith in Bishop Estate trustees, in how they are chosen, how much they are paid, how they govern". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  8. ^ "Bronster releases preliminary report". 
  9. ^ a b "Kamehameha Schools 2007-2008 Annual Report". Retrieved 2010-03-10. 
  10. ^ a b "Kamehameha Schools - Campuses". 
  11. ^ "Admissions: A Brief History of Kamehameha Schools". official web site. Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  12. ^ "Ho‘oulu Hawaiian Data Center Frequently Asked Questions". official web site. Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  13. ^ a b Rick Daysog (November 29, 2003). "School lets non-Hawaiian stay; In exchange, the student will drop his suit against Kamehameha Schools". Star-Bulletin. 
  14. ^ Rick Daysog and Debra Barayuga (November 18, 2003). "Federal judge upholds Hawaiians-only school; The court rules that Kamehameha Schools' admission policy serves a legitimate purpose". Star Bulletin. 
  15. ^ "John Doe v. Kamehameha Schools". Honolulu Advertiser. August 3, 2005. 
  16. ^ Gordon Y.K. Pang and Will Hoove (August 7, 2005). "Rally cry: 'Justice now!'". Honolulu Advertiser. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ Sally Apgar (February 23, 2006). "Court will rehear school case; The challenge to Kamehameha Schools' policy will go before 15 judges of the 9th Circuit Court". Star Bulletin. 
  19. ^ "Trustee Message: KS sues John Doe for Breach of Contract; Receives demand letter threatening new lawsuit from Eric Grant". Kamehameha Schools. August 6 2008. Retrieved 2010-03-09. 
  20. ^ "Kamehameha Sues Over Breach Of Confidentiality". KITV Honolulu. August 6, 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  21. ^ "KSDL - Kulaiwi". Kamehameha Schools. 2008-09-29. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  22. ^ "Kamehameha Publishing". Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 
  23. ^ "Our Alma Mater: Sons of Hawaii". official web site. Kamehameha Schools. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 21°12′04″N 157°30′46″W / 21.201232°N 157.51279°W / 21.201232; -157.51279


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