Kamehameha Schools, formerly called Kamehameha Schools Bishop Estate (KSBE), is a private college-preparatory school in Hawaiʻi serving students from preschool to grade 12. It operates 31 preschools statewide and three grade K–12 campuses in Kapālama, Oʻahu, Pukalani, Maui, and Keaʻau, Hawaiʻi.
Kamehameha was founded under the terms of the will of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a direct descendant of Kamehameha the Great and the 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. Originally established as an all-boys school on the grounds of the current Bishop Museum, Kamehameha opened its girls' school in 1894 and became coeducational in 1965. The 600-acre (2.4 km2) Kapālama campus opened in 1931, while the Maui and Hawaiʻi campuses opened in 1996 and 2001, respectively.
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.
As of the 2011–12 school year, Kamehameha had an enrollment of 5,398 students at its three campuses and 1,317 children at its preschools, for a total enrollment of 6,715. Beyond its campuses, Kamehameha served an estimated 46,923 Hawaiians in 2011 through its support for public schools, charter schools, and families and caregivers throughout Hawaii.
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“In America the taint of sectarianism lies broad upon the land. Not content with acknowledging the supremacy as the Diety, and with erecting temples in his honor, where all can bow down with reverence, the pride and vanity of human reason enter into and pollute our worship, and the houses that should be of God and for God, alone, where he is to be honored with submissive faith, are too often merely schools of metaphysical and useless distinctions. The nation is sectarian, rather than Christian.”
—James Fenimore Cooper (17891851)