HONOLULU (KHON2) — It was reported on Thursday, Nov. 16 that Kamehameha Schools on Hawaiʻi Island is conducting an internal investigation regarding the theft of more than $360,000 taken from its Keaau campus.

Hawai‘i Island Police Department said that they are investigating allegations that an internal theft occurred at the Kea‘au of Kamehameha Schools’ campus.

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This led Hawai‘i Island Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigation Division personnel to initiate a meeting with Kamehameha Schools administrators.

“The administrators reported that a former employee of the school embezzled more than $360,000 over a period of approximately three years,” said police officials.

Detectives with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section are now reviewing Kamehameha Schools’ internal investigation documents which were provided by the school’s administration.

The documents identify witnesses that may need to be interviewed. Police are also drafting search warrants for various institutions.

Police said that no arrests have been made in the case. They also indicated that there is a timeframe of when that may occur.

“Police are not identifying a suspect at this time and will defer any further comment to Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i administrators,” said police.

In a letter to parents, the head of the Kamehameha School said that they believe the funds were allegedly stolen by someone who was employed at the school.

Kamehameha Schools said that the suspected employee no longer works for the school system and that they are cooperating fully with the police investigation.

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Anyone who has information that is relative to this investigation may call Detective Paul Mangus with the Area I Criminal Investigation Section, at (808) 961-2383, or via email at Paul.Mangus@hawaiicounty.gov.  

The following is an official response from M. Kāhealani Naeʻole-Wong, Poʻo Kula, Kamehameha Hawaiʻi:

Aloha e nā hoa kūpaʻa o Kamehameha Hawai‘i,

Today, I address you, our Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi community, with heavy emotions – from disappointment, anger, and sadness. But overriding these is a deep resolve.

This morning, we filed a police report against a former Kamehameha Schools Hawaiʻi employee. After a comprehensive internal investigation led by the Legal Group, we believe that this individual, while employed by us, stole more than $360,000 from our campus.

This individual’s conduct is shameful, inexcusable, and a betrayal. This was someone known to us, whom we educated and entrusted to serve alongside us. We are providing our findings to the Hawaiʻi Police Department, cooperating fully with them, and will be supporting appropriate criminal consequences and legal action to completely recover the amounts this individual has taken from us.

I am also working closely with our CEO and executive team to scrutinize our systems, practices, and policies so that we can shore them up and ensure that this will never occur again.

Going forward, we are collectively committed to and are proceeding to implement steps to better prevent, deter, and detect these incidents, including having independent experts evaluate our policies, practices, training, and analytics.

Please know that all of us at Kamehameha Schools are committed to upholding the highest standards of fiscal responsibility and ethical practices, to protect the trust of Ke Aliʻi Pauahi, and to fulfill our mission to educate Native Hawaiians. Our focus remains on this.

Finally, the wrongful actions of one individual does not define our entire kauhale, which has always been built on principles of honesty and trust. As we navigate through this challenging time, it will be these values that continue to guide us. 

He ‘onipa‘a ka ‘oia‘i‘o.

Me ka ha‘aha‘a i ke aloha,

M. Kāhealani Naeʻole-Wong
Poʻo Kula, Kamehameha Hawaiʻi
Official response from Kamehameha Schools on Friday, Nov. 17.