Special Olympics Hawai’i REFUSES to Hire Males

As ClearHealthLife is interested in improving lives of all people, we publish this story about discriminatory hiring practices in Hawai’i and by Special Olympics Hawai’i in particular. Our nation suffers tremendous confusion and strife at this time, as we continue to punish, shame and blame each other. We have many challenges in front of us. Dividing only ensures we will not be successful.

OPEN LETTER TO SPECIAL OLYMPICS

Loretta Claiborne
Special Olympics Chief Inspiration Officer; Vice Chair, Board of Directors

Haylie Wrubel,
Senior Director, Global Education, Unified Schools

Dan Epstein & Nip Ho
Special Olympics Hawai’i 

Raymond Griffin Jr, EEOC director
Sara C. Green, EEOC investigator

Aloha Special Olympics,

I first applied to work for Special Olympics Hawai’i (SOHI) in 2020. Directors Dan Epstein and Nip Ho praised my resume and background. We had a wonderful interview. Then the two abandoned interest in me. In fact, they even denied me an opportunity to volunteer and work for free.

I wanted to assist the special needs community in the Hawai’i islands. For some reason, SOHI has discriminated against me … a disabled, non-Asian male. 

Nip Ho (left) and Dan Epstein: Compassionate People who Discriminate Against Male Professionals
Nip Ho (left) and Dan Epstein: Compassionate People who Discriminate Against Male Professionals

Briefly, I pursued my PhD at the University of New Mexico in political science, undergrad degree is economics. I focused on gender and civil rights, environment and health policy. I directed a research program hiring up to 60 staff, and wrote grants, served as a grant evaluator and financial coordinator, and provided research, analysis and report writing on many social and political topics. 

During this time, I developed a “unified” basketball program with a teammate in Beaverton, Oregon working closely with Nike and Special Olympics Washington. I served as a volunteer director for some 16 years. HoopCamp was a revolutionary and phenomenal success. Community participants credited HoopCamp for being the first “unified” sports camp in the nation. SEE: www.hoopcamp.net

Welcome to HoopCamp.net. Develop a Unified Sports Program
Welcome to HoopCamp.net. Develop a Unified Sports Program

However, with this advanced professional experience, SOHI won’t hire me. Why? SOHI seems to only hire females [staff]. And, I just learned SOHI hired another Asian female, Emerald-Leigh Chun, for the position.

Looking at my notes, I reached out to SOHI to apply for the Unified Champion Schools Coordinator position on July 18, 2022. Mr. Epstein and Ms. Ho were not interested in my services, although I contacted them numerous times.

Ms. Chun has been working as an educational assistant (EA) at Nanakuli high school on O’ahu’s west side. I’m a third-generation teacher. Have 100% respect for Ms. Chun.

EAs in the teaching professional are like nurses to doctors in medical care. They shoulder much of the heavy lifting and are heroes in the classroom. I’m certain Ms. Chun is a wonderful, dedicated and compassionate professional. I am as well. 

However, Hawai’i does not prefer EAs to lead classrooms. They are not fully qualified for such responsibilities. The education system in Hawai’i and across the nation requires more training and development. 

SOHI has refused to consider me, a fully-qualified unified sports director, yet selected a talented individual who is not equally trained or prepared. Hawai’i has massive employment problems in the islands.

The city of Honolulu hired a analyst, Abdurrehman Naveed, to help fix and improve the hiring process. Government, private business, and non-profits hire friends, family members or discriminate in many ways. “Our islands stay broke,” as locals say in frustration. Pursuing excellence is not a top priority in Hawai’i.

Hawai'i Hires Friends & Family, not merit-based
Hawai’i Hires Friends & Family, not merit-based

It is well-known Hawai’i has a “racism” problem. A small handful of plantation and business owners, including American, German and Native Hawaiians, led the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawai’i beginning in 1887 and culminating in 1893 forcing the queen off the throne.

Notably, there is a higher percentage of Asian Americans in Hawai’i than in any other state. Hawai’i also has the highest percentage of multiracial residents than any other state and the lowest percentage of White Americans.

  • Asian: 38%
  • Two or more races: 24%
  • White: 24%
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 10%
  • Black or African American: 2%
  • Other race: 1.0%
  • Native American: 0.25%

Hawai’i is the only state where Asians are the largest ethnic group, which makes Hawai’i a majority-minority state. The Asian population is primarily Filipino, although there are also large cohorts of Japanese, Chinese and Korean residents.

My friend of mixed race expressed his frustration being called “Haole” on social media. This racial slur is directed toward non-Asian males primarily. To us, it’s like being African American and called “N*gger.”

Haole to White people is like N*gger to Black Folks. Much racism in Hawai'i
Haole to White people is like N*gger to Black Folks. Much racism in Hawai’i

Jalyn Young-Kaloi responded to Elton:
I absolutely love when people ask, “are you Japanese OR Chinese?!” 😳🙄😂 Both! Why can’t I be both?! 🤦🏻‍♀️ Then I love to confuse them by adding: “I am also Hawaiian and Caucasian.”

None of us had anything to do with the overthrow. And we would never disparage Japanese Americans in the islands for the December 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor. It’s simply fashionable to pick on non-Asian males at this time. 

A family with a special needs son alerted me to the Unified Champion Schools Coordinator position and urged me to apply. Told the mother I would love to help out, but that SOHI won’t hire a male. Here’s the list of staff. All are women, except CEO Dan Epstein. 

  • Cindy Ujimori
  • Tracey Bender
  • Shari Johnson
  • Garrika Venegas
  • Allison Dunkle
  • Michelle Kimura
  • Olivia Morton
  • Stephanie Zane
  • Jennifer Wong
  • Paula Whitaker
  • Adrienne Laurion
  • Veronica Lomeli 
  • Jocelyn Barriga 
  • Christine Tancayo 
  • Denise Lindsey
  • Heather Dansdill

Now, you can add Emerald-Leigh Chun to the list. No men! Our special needs participants, their families and the community need males to be represented and role models for our youngsters. This discriminatory hiring practice harms our special needs community. 

I am reaching out to you at this time hoping you will get involved. My next step is to file a complaint with the U.S. EEOC. As this discrimination has been ongoing for two years now, I’m also going to post this information in the public forum.

The U.S. Department of Education, many corporate sponsors, and thousands of volunteers work to assist the special needs community. There is NO room for discrimination. Our sole objective must be focused on serving and assisting the individuals who have intellectual disabilities and their families. 

Thank you for your time! Let’s put our special needs community before our personal ambition please. 


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Ko’olau of Kaua’i. I am the Defiant One
“I Believe We Can”

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