Kahuku boys basketball coach Alan Akina filed a lawsuit in the First Circuit Court on Monday against the Department of Education, the Kahuku administration and some parents of players on the team.
Akina contends he was wrongly suspended due to placing his freshman son, Kawika Akina, on the varsity team.
Kahuku principal Pauline Masaniai and athletic director Gillian Yamagata were named as defendants along with parents Deloma Sauvao and Pua Spencer, and the Department of Education. There are other unnamed defendants.
The plaintiffs are listed as Alan Akina and his wife Leeann Lauritzen Akina individually and as guardians of Kawika Akina.
Akina is looking for relief and damages stemming from what is written in the suit as “summary removal and indefinite suspension as head coach … and defamatory, threatening and harmful actions taken” against him and his son.
Coach Akina, who is also the president and chief operating officer of 101 Financial in Kahuku, is seeking reinstatement from a suspension described in the suit as “arbitrary and capricious” and for “preliminary and permanent” injunctions restraining the defendants from continuing the suspension.
In the suit, Akina states that at a meeting in the summer of 2015, Yamagata told him that the Red Raiders student-athletes respected and appreciated him but that certain unidentified parents were concerned that he may favor Kawika, who was planning to try out for the team.
Kawika Akina was one of 12 players who made the varsity team, and the coach made no cuts.
The suit contends that the plaintiffs were informed that defendants Sauvao, Spencer and others complained to defendants Masaniai and Yamagata “that Kawika’s selection to play for the varsity would result in less playing time and/or unfair treatment of their respective sons and that the (parents) demanded that (Akina) be fired and/or Kawika be demoted to play on the junior varsity team.”
In mid-November, according to the suit, (Masaniai and Yamagata) “summoned (Akina) to a meeting at which they ordered him to place Kawika on the junior varsity team regardless of the rights Kawika has based upon his performance and evaluations in the team tryouts.”
Following the order by Masaniai and Yamagata, Akina demoted Kawika to the JV team, where he played three games. After that, when a varsity player was hurt, Akina brought Kawika back up to the varsity. Akina, who is being represented by attorney Eric A. Seitz, argues that the decision was made by the full basketball staff “based on Kawika’s skills and hard work.”
Allegedly, according to the suit, that’s when Sauvao, Spencer and other parents demanded Akina be fired.
Due to a boycott, apparently planned by some Red Raiders parents and aimed at having Akina removed, only five Kahuku players showed up for a Dec. 26 game at the Punahou tournament. On Dec. 29, after Akina was suspended following the Dec. 26 game and with an interim coach at the helm, all of Kahuku’s players were allowed to play, including those who boycotted, except for, the suit explains, Kawika Akina, who has played minimally in subsequent varsity games.
The suit also alleges that coach Akina’s right to due process of law were violated and that he has “suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm to his professional reputation and standing and earning capacity.” In addition, the suit alleges that some of the defendants made defamatory and false statements about Akina.
An email sent by Hawaii Prep World to Masaniai for comment was not returned.
Lindsay Chambers, a DOE spokesperson, replied to a Hawaii Prep World email with this statement: “Coach Akina has been placed on indefinite leave pending an inquiry from complaints from our boys on the varsity basketball team and their parents. Details about the investigation are confidential.”