$700K Settlement From Pennsylvania School After Denying HIV-Positive Teen Admission
A high school freshman and his mother denied access will receive $700,000 from Milton Hershey School in central Pennsylvania. He was denied admission based on his HIV-positive status.
The 14-year-old honor roll student was rejected by the school back in 2011 after school officials said he would pose a “direct threat” to other students due to his health conditions.
The Department of Justice and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania became involved helping the family fill a lawsuit and charging the school with violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The DOA released this statement:
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.
The ADA requires public accommodations, including private schools such as the Milton Hershey School, to provide individuals with disabilities, including people with HIV, equal access to goods, services, privileges, accommodations, facilities, advantages and accommodations.
Last month school officials also came forward and issued an apology. The school also reversed its decision last month informing the family that they would reconsider his application.
The family plans to use the money to seek other educational options for the teen.