OHA Meeting Prompts Further Discussion of Pāʻia Lottery

May 17, 2013, 2:39 PM HST · Updated May 17, 2:41 PM
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Hulu Lindsey (at center, with black and white blouse) observing the demonstration held last week against a planned lottery at Paia School. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Hulu Lindsey (at center, with black and white blouse) observing the demonstration held last week against a planned lottery at Pāʻia School. File photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

A week after gaining temporary reprieve from a proposed lottery for Hawaiian Immersion admission at Pāʻia Elementary School, opponents showed up in force to a plead their case before the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

An estimated 100 Maui residents reportedly attended a community meeting hosted by OHA this week, prompting further review of admission issues facing the Hawaiian Immersion education program, officials said.

OHA reports that the meeting, led by Maui Trustee Hulu Lindsey, lasted four hours and included “emotionally-charged” testimony from parents who urged trustees to stop the school from using the lottery system.

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The situation surfaced when the amount of students seeking admission into the Papa Mālaaʻo program for kindergarten students, exceeded the school’s two-classroom capacity for geographic exceptions.

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. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Kahele Dukelow, a Hawaiian immersion parent, and a professor of Hawaiian studies and language at UH Maui College, reportedly called the lottery system “divisive, discriminatory and a threat to efforts to continue reviving the Hawaiian language.”  File photo by Wendy Osher.

The lottery, which has since been “postponed” while officials brainstorm other options, would have limited the program to the first 40 names drawn.

A total of 53 applicants had reportedly sought admission into the program, with an additional number of students that were turned away because they missed the geographic exception deadline.

Kahele Dukelow, a parent of three Hawaiian immersion children, and a professor of Hawaiian Studies at UH Maui College, reportedly called the lottery system “divisive, discriminatory and a threat to efforts to continue reviving the Hawaiian language,” as reported in a news update provided by OHA.

In an interview with Dukelow last week she told Maui Now, “our larger issue is that Hawaiian language immersion should be treated equally and fairly as with English.  They would never turn away 13 students hoping to get into an English kindergarten in the public school system.”

Paia lottery demonstration. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Pāʻia lottery demonstration. Photo by Wendy Osher.

She continued saying, “We should not be limited to the decision of an individual principal.  There should be a BOE policy that provides for fair and equal treatment of Hawaiian language in our schools.”

In an interview with school principal Susan Alivado last week she said, “We are hoping to find a better solution. Having the selection process is not the ideal.” School officials hope that further meetings and brainstorming sessions with key contacts will result in a better resolution.”

According to OHA, the Hawaiian immersion program at Pāʻia Elementary already consists of two-thirds of the school’s total enrollment, and is identified as a complex for Hawaiian immersion education.

Paia School. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Pāʻia School. Photo by Wendy Osher.

OHA reports that a formal position on concerns raised at Pāʻia Elementary School will be taken by the OHA Board of Trustees at its May 23rd meeting.

The Lau’ulu program at the University of Hawai’i Maui College will discuss the topic at length during its upcoming edition of Lau’ulu TV, which is scheduled to air from 7-8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, May 18 and 19.

The Lau‘ulu program was created to advocate for the improvement of college and community services to foster Hawaiian student success in school and beyond.
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