OHA trustees draw big crowd to Maui meeting
Maui Trustee Hulu Lindsey opens the first in a series of Neighbor Island meetings.
News Release from Office of Hawaiian Affairs
MAUI (May 17, 2013) – Nearly 100 Maui residents turned out for a community meeting that prompted the Board of Trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to further address growing outrage over an elementary school’s treatment of Hawaiian immersion education.
Led by Maui Trustee Hulu Lindsey, the four-hour meeting at Kamehameha Schools Maui focused attention on a broad range of concerns, including an impassioned plea from a group of 20 parents whose children attend Pāʻia Elementary School.
In emotionally-charged testimony, the parents took turns urging OHA trustees to help stop the school from using a lottery system to determine which of its Native Hawaiian students will fill 40 slots Pāʻia Elementary has made available for Hawaiian immersion education.
Kahele Dukelow, a parent of three Hawaiian immersion children as well as a professor of Hawaiian studies and language at Maui Community College, called the lottery system divisive, discriminatory and a threat to efforts to continue reviving the Hawaiian language, whose use was once threatened in Hawaiʻi schools and government.
Dukelow and the other parents called on OHA to help push the state Department of Education to address the issue by stopping the lottery at Pāʻia Elementary and making the school – whose Hawaiian immersion program already consists of two-thirds of the school's total enrollment – a complex for Hawaiian immersion education.
“We have to be protected from people who don’t believe in what we’re doing,” Dukelow told OHA trustees. “This is about revitalizing a language. We want it to keep growing and growing until it’s an integral part of the community. And we would like to see political pressure come down on the Hawaiʻi Department of Education to address this issue.”
In response, the OHA Board of Trustees is expected at its May 23 meeting to take a formal position on the concerns raised with the Hawaiian immersion program at Pāʻia Elementary.
In addition to the Hawaiian immersion education issue, the Maui community meeting gave residents an opportunity to weigh in on the impact of OHA's efforts to improve their lives.
Jo-Ann Carreira, a 30-year resident of Hāna, told trustees about a $148,500 OHA grant to a Queen’s Medical Center program that has helped her and 145 neighbors adopt healthier lifestyles. “I’ve lost 50 pounds over the past year by walking three miles a day, eating more vegetables and eliminating processed food from my diet,” she said.
Kelly Pearson, director of operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Maui, credited a $100,000 OHA grant for the program’s ability, over the next two years, to provide a safe environment for Hawaiian teenagers who are vulnerable to risky behavior caused by a lack of adequate adult supervision.
In addition, Umialiloa Harding, 47, acknowledged OHA’s role in helping him transform from a drug-court participant to one of 96 Native Hawaiians who received between $2,500 and $10,000 to pay the tuition for continuing their education through Maui Community College's Liko Aʻe program, which received a $325,000 OHA grant.