Pennsylvania School Ordered to Pay Up After Denying Entrance to HIV Positive Child

The Milton Hershey School. Image via ABC.

Last fall, a 14-year-old honor student was denied entry into Milton Hershey School because of his HIV status. The school defended their decision by saying that he would be a threat to the other student’s health and safety. The Philadelphia-based AIDS Law Project sued the school in federal court. [ABC]

From the DOJ:

The Justice Department announced today that it and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania have reached a settlement with the Milton Hershey School of Hershey, PA, to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).   The agreement resolves allegations that the school violated the ADA by refusing to consider a child, known by the pseudonym Abraham Smith, for enrollment due to the fact that he has HIV.

Under the settlement agreement, the school is required to pay $700,000 to Smith and his mother, adopt and enforce a policy prohibiting discrimination and requiring equal opportunity for students with disabilities, including those with HIV, in the school’s programs and services, and to provide training to staff and administrators on the requirements of the ADA.  The school must also pay a $15,000 civil penalty to the United States.

“Children should not be denied educational opportunities simply because they have HIV,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “This settlement sends a clear message that unlawful discrimination against persons with HIV or AIDS will not be tolerated.”

“This is a very significant case, affirming the rights of persons with HIV, and we applaud the school for working so cooperatively to amend its position on this matter,” said Zane David Memeger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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