AIDS discrimination nets boy $700K
Sep 12, 2012 / 9:11 pm
A 14-year-old boy and his mother will receive $700,000 from the settlement of an AIDS discrimination lawsuit against a private boarding school that refused to enrol him because he's HIV-positive.
The settlement was announced Wednesday by the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and the Milton Hershey School, which is financed by a trust that holds the controlling interest in The Hershey Co. candy manufacturer. The settlement is subject to court approval.
The school, for poor and socially disadvantaged students, also must pay $15,000 in civil penalties and provide HIV training for students and staff members.
The Philadelphia-based AIDS Law Project sued the school in federal court last year after it refused to enrol the boy, an honour roll student from the Philadelphia area, on the grounds that he would be a threat to other students' health and safety.
The school initially defended its decision, saying it was difficult, but appropriate under the circumstances.
"In order to protect our children in this unique environment," the school said in December after the lawsuit was filed, "we cannot accommodate the needs of students with chronic communicable diseases that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others."
The boy's attorney countered that he required no special accommodations and controlled his HIV with medication that wouldn't affect his school schedule.
"This young man is a motivated, intelligent kid who poses no health risk to other students, but is being denied an educational opportunity because of ignorance and fear about HIV and AIDS," attorney Ronda Goldfein said then.
In August, the school reversed its policy and announced it would treat applicants with HIV the same as others.
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