Akina files suit against Kahuku and parents

Alan Akina filed suit, seeking reinstatement as head coach of the Kahuku boys basketball team.  Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Alan Akina filed suit, seeking reinstatement as head coach of the Kahuku boys basketball team. Bruce Asato / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

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.”


  1. education 2nd January 14, 2016 7:57 pm

    Education First, what the hell did these people do to you to make you say such hurtful things about them??? You talking about PCC and McDonald’s workers with hatred. Whats wrong with you? This article is written about a coach suing a school and 2 women because his team didnt want to play for him…the team doesn’t, and sounds like they won’t even if he gets it back, play for him. Somehow you and everyone found a way to make it sound as if an entire community is full of a bunch of losers…the high school is full of kids that have no chance at making it in life…their test scores are so horrible that their doomed to failure in life…ALL OF THESE INSULTS because kids dont want to play for a basketball coach. You people need a new outlook in life. Turn your message around!!! Tell kids that they WILL be successful! Tell them that they have a chance. Tell them that slme of the best people in this world come from dire situations. Change the way you think. Make this place better, not the crabs in a bucket mentality. I would be raging if I was from there after reading everything. Sorry Mr Latu. We should have never used ur son to debate something. Hes an incredible talent n good luck in college. Kahuku boys good luck with your season. Im going to keep watching Hawaii basketball n cheer on the kids.

  2. The Truth January 14, 2016 8:25 pm

    What has Coach Akina done to deserve this kind of treatment? Kinda like the pot calling the kettle…..

  3. The Truth January 14, 2016 8:27 pm

    The test scores are not an insult. It’s scientific fact.

  4. The Truth January 14, 2016 8:28 pm

    I like to be realistic. The law of averages tell me if you are not proficient in math, reading, or science, you will most likely struggle to find a high paying job and have the opportunity to go to a high level college.

    That is not on the kids. It’s on the parents. But the parents won’t take accountability. Instead they will sling insults on this blog and make excuses. And that is why these test scores really haven’t changed over the past 50+ years.

  5. Education First January 15, 2016 11:09 am

    To the blogger named Peni Latu, I am sorry if you are offended. But I stand by my argument of low test scores, throwing the coach under the bus, and anything else I have said regarding basketball and the poor 2-3, now 3-3 record.

  6. education 2nd January 15, 2016 1:04 pm

    Education first…Nobody would take issue with what you say if you weren’t so disparaging. Debate your points without calling kids n parents named, n then nobody would care. But the way you post hateful comments, n the amount of hateful things u say is overwhelming. You can be passionate about something without poking at the dignity of others. You can be controversial without offending people. Debate not degrade!!!

  7. Fletcher Lee January 15, 2016 4:26 pm

    No such thing as a “high level college”. Every college has its own unique attribute.

    Whether it’s Emporia state in Kansas, or the more glamorous “Cal-Berkeley”. At Cal you could get lost in the shuffle. Prices for everything are sky high. At Emporia State its the opposite. All these glamorous big name universities are overrated. Whose to say you can’t get a great experience and education at Emporia State, Mid American Nazarene, or Valley city State College.

    When at college myself, just being in a town that’s 97% Caucasian was a solid experience for me. We were only an “NAIA” member but we destroyed NCAA D1 schools every year. My junior and senior years we played Washington State over 30 times, they only beat us twice.

    I guess ’cause I’m half white it wasn’t so intimidating. But this mindset where you have to go to a big name glamorous University to be successful is foolish.

  8. Education First January 15, 2016 5:09 pm

    Let me clarify, my comments are only directed at 88. He’s the guy that told me to meet him at the hospital. I wasted my time and went, but he never show. I mean, why tell me to meet you and you never show up. That’s not cool. I even had one bag poi and 2 lb poke.

  9. Education First January 15, 2016 7:27 pm

    And Mr. Chang was with me too.

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