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Lawsuit says churches underpay for using schools

Lawsuit over church, schools

HONOLULU (AP) — A lawsuit filed in state court claims five churches have shortchanged the state more than $5.6 million over six years in rental and utility costs for using public schools.

Mitch Kahle, founder of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of Church and State, and public advocate Holly Huber filed the lawsuit in March.

A core contention is that churches are using schools for time beyond what’s stated in their applications to use the facilities.

Kahle and Huber said they investigated the churches for a year and compared actual use of gymnasiums, cafeterias and classrooms with proposed use. Fees were based on proposed use. In some cases, churches advertised services for longer periods, according to the plaintiffs.

“The way that they do it is they fill out false application forms that say they’re only using the gym or the cafeteria for a few hours when in fact they’re using it for the entire day or the entire weekend,” said attorney James Bickerton.


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