HONOLULU (AP) _ A federal appeals court said Wednesday that it would reconsider a decision to strike down the Hawaiians-only admissions policy of a prestigious private school.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed to have the entire court rehear arguments on Kamehameha Schools' 118-year-old policy. A three-judge appeals panel had ruled in August that the practice violated federal anti-discrimination laws.

Robert Kihune, the school's head trustee, said without the review, Kamehameha would have had to take the case to the Supreme Court.

``Last year's panel decision would have required Kamehameha to offer its programs to children who do not need them,'' he said.

The San Francisco court ruled in a lawsuit brought on behalf of an unidentified non-Hawaiian teenager who was denied admission in 2003.

John Goemans, an attorney representing the teenager, said the review will prevent the student from enrolling at Kamehameha. He said the boy is finishing his senior year at a public school.

``There's no question that Kamehameha schools has an illegal, unconstitutional, racial admissions policy,'' Goemans said.

Kamehameha Schools was established under the 1883 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, and its three campuses are partly funded by a trust now worth $6.2 billion. More than 5,000 students are enrolled in elementary to high school classes on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island.

Theoretically, non-Hawaiians may be admitted if there are openings after Hawaiians and part-Hawaiians have been offered admission, but the school routinely rejects students without Hawaiian blood. The school's assets allow it to offer tuition subsidies, making admission highly prized.

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