Private school refuses to admit student with HIV

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Caesar753, Dec 1, 2011.

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  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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  3. bondo

    bondo Cohort

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    Well, if its a private school they can accept or reject students based on whatever criteria they want? I don't know much about the legality of actions like this, so thats just a shot in the dark.
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I'm shaking my head.
     
  5. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    To me, what's even worse than the article is the comments below it- people going on and on about putting their "innocent children" in danger by allowing the student to attend the school. I can't believe that in 2011 people are still that ignorant about how HIV is transmitted- thinking you could get it from a small cut or scrape, food, drinking after someone, someone sneezing or coughing on you etc. That's just absurd. We actually have two HIV positive kids at my school. You know how I know? They're the principal's children. She and her husband adopted them. She chooses to tell us about their status because she feels that keeping it some big secret makes the stigma worse- you wouldn't hesitate to tell a friend your child had cancer or something, yet HIV has to be a secret (her opinion, and that's not what I want this topic to turn in to...just stating how I know this about her kids). The medicine they have out now is so good that it's practically a non-issue for these kids. My P swears that her non-adopted son who is diabetic is harder to care for/more medically concerning than the two with HIV. They look like normal, healthy kids- one would never know by looking at them and they're expected to live long, normal lives. Reading this makes me so glad we have those wonderful kids here, instead of somewhere like the school in the article.
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    The response from the Milton Hershey School:



    UPDATE:

    The Milton Hershey School is responding to a discrimination suit filed by a 13-year-old boy who did not get into the school because he has HIV.

    Milton Hershey School sees itself as a very unique school since it houses students full-time over night. A dilemma since one way HIV is spread is through sex.

    But the lawsuit filed by the 13-year-old Delaware County boy says his denial to the school is a violation of the Americans with Disabities Act.

    AIDS and HIV advocates agree. “People with AIDS are covered by the Act and discrimination of this type is not accepted,” stated an advocate.

    "We acknowledge challenging the students application,” stated Vice President of Communications for Milton Hershey Connie McNamara. “We have 1850 students in our
    care.”

    School attorneys argue they are not obligated to admit the student if he poses a ‘direct threat’ to the health and safety of others that can’t be easily fixed by changes to school policies, programs and buildings.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    From the Milton Hershey School:

    Today, Milton Hershey School had planned to file a request in federal court asking the court to review our decision to deny enrollment to a child who is HIV positive because of concerns for the health and safety of our current students.


    We had been in discussions with the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, which is representing this 13-year-old boy. Recognizing the complex legal issues, the School was preparing to ask the court to weigh in on this matter. Unfortunately, attorneys for the young man took the adversarial action of filing a lawsuit against the School.


    The decision to deny enrollment was a challenging one for us to make. Like all our enrollment decisions, we need to balance our desire to serve the needs of an individual child seeking admission with our obligation to protect the health and safety of all 1,850 children already in our care.


    Attorneys for this young man and his mother have suggested that this case is comparable to the Ryan White case. But this case is actually nothing like the Ryan White case. Milton Hershey School is not a day school, where students go home to their family at the end of the day. Instead, this is a unique home-like environment, a pre-K -12 residential school where children live in homes with 10-12 other students on our campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


    In order to protect our children in this unique environment, we cannot accommodate the needs of students with chronic communicable diseases that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others. The reason is simple. We are serving children, and no child can be assumed to always make responsible decisions which protect the well being of others.


    That is why, after careful review and analysis, we determined we could not put our children at risk.
     
  7. sonflawah

    sonflawah Companion

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    Sounds like they saying that it is a risk to take the 13-year-old boy since HIV is spread through sex and he might have sex with someone because the school is a boarding school.

    I could see that side of the argument (if that is what they are saying) and how it might be a different situation than a regular school. But, I still think it's wrong and they should accept him.
     
  8. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    It was a $$ decision. Lots of those enlightened parents would
    have taken Johnny or Jenny away if the child had shown up.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    The Milton Hershey School does not charge tuition, room and board, and even supplies their students with uniforms, books, backpacks, leisure and dress clothes,. The students get their pick of extra-curricular activities (sports, dance, music, etc.) at no additional charge. The only thing parents pay for is travel to and from the school during breaks, and that's not going to the school, that's going to whatever bus/train/cab/gas station the parents decide to use.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Right.

    It's a fairly well known philanthropic institution. They have a student body of something like 1800 kids, all tuition free. It's been around for ages.

    It's not about money.

    What they appear not to want to say is that they can't prevent teens from having sex. As a result, his HIV positive status puts the rest of the student body at risk.
     
  11. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Wow. A school funded from chocolate. Amazing. Even free dental and medical. But I could not send my kids away to school. Im guessing many of these kids need to leave the environment they are in to be better educated.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Yeah, it wouldn't be right for my family either.

    But, current issue aside, they've had a wonderful reputation for so many years.
     
  13. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I have considered it. Actually, I have an application package for this very school sitting in my desk. There are times when the issues facing your children are so great you are willing to consider setting aside your selfish desires to give your kids something you can't, in spite of your best efforts. Sometimes the issues aren't quality of education, but "troubled young man" issues.
     
  14. Curiouscat

    Curiouscat Comrade

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    To MMSWM,
    Your post brought tears to my eyes. I am sorry you are dealing with what you are dealing with. Life can be so hard sometimes. Raising children is never easy.
    My parents had many issues with my sibling. They were often confused and unsure what to do. How do you make the best decision for your child without a crystal ball?
    I just want to wish you the best of luck. I hope you find peace and answers soon.
    curious cat
     
  15. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Private school with a legitimate reason not to admit the student. I don't think the case against them is a good one.
     
  16. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    If they are a boarding school and are worried about students having sex on campus, I'm thinking now if I'm a parent of a child at that school I'm wondering what kind of supervision there is. I attended a boarding school, and we were very closely supervised. (The school I went to was public, so he would have been admitted there regardless.) Sure, some students chose to sneak off and do illicit things in the bushes or wherever, but they were almost always caught and sent home from the school. I feel like with him knowing his HIV status, he would be responsible enough to know what his boundaries are as far as physical contact and spreading the disease.

    I don't know who to be more appalled at: the school, or those people who think the school is right to deny him admission. People need to reeducate themselves about the spread and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Some people seem to be stuck in the 80's with their information and attitudes, and it's time to get up to date with the medical and social advances.
     
  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    HIV isn't the only thing that can be transmitted through sexual contact of unsupervised students. Does the school also refuse to admit students with other STDs? Does the school also refuse to admit students who could potentially become pregnant or cause a pregnancy? Surely pregnancy is also something that can be transmitted through sexual contact of unsupervised students.
     
  18. DaleJr88AmpFan

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    It is a private school that has their own admission's policy. They dictate who can come in.. that is their right. Whether or not we all agree with their decision does not matter. Not everyone is accepted in to that school... it is the school's perogative. I'm OK with that. There are other colleges/universities, programs, and award shows that require certain ethnic characteristes or gender... that's the way it is. In order to be accepted, included, or celebrated, you have to meet their criteria. In this case, the individual is not being accepted due to the school's criteria. It is what it is. :)
     
  19. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    But if the criteria is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act....?
     
  20. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Private schools do not have to be able to accomodate disabilities.

    People may not agree with the school's decision. But as far as I understand, what they did was completely within their legal rights.
     
  21. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I was curious, and just went to the ADA site.

    Here's the opening:
    " Q: What is the ADA?

    A: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) gives federal
    civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar
    to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color,
    sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal
    opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public
    accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local
    government services, and telecommunications. "

    Nowhere does it say that private schools need accomodate any sort of disabilities.
     
  22. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    My school has no accommodations for students in wheel chairs. We have no working elevators and a three story building with even more stair cases.
     
  23. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I don't agree.

    Having HIV is no guarantee of responsible behavior. (If it were, the epidemic would have been stopped in its tracks in the early 80's.)
     
  24. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Private schools only need to accommodate for disabilities if they recieve a sort of grant.
     
  25. Cerek

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    Interesting discussion so far with valid points posted on both sides.

    One question I have is this: "How does HIV qualify as a disability in the first place?" A previous poster stated her two HIV children are much healthier and less difficult to care for medically than their diabetic child. If HIV is so easily controlled and cared for now, why is it considered a disability?
     
  26. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    I haven't researched this myself- so just taking a shot here- but I believe it's just a legal thing that people with HIV are protected under ADA, it's not that people are saying HIV is a disability or it's not- that's just the way it is in the law. I would assume that it was placed in the law as a result of discrimination and ignorant policies surrounding those with HIV- people not wanting to employ them because they could spread it around the work place or something like that. I never watch this show normally, but I caught one of those "what would you do" episodes and they had a waiter with HIV (I don't know how this was made public- I think they had "plants" in the resteraunt that started loudly talking about it or something) and it was astounding how many people thought that the waiter shouldn't be allowed to work "around people" or "around food" because they could spread it. One person wouldn't even touch the menu that the waiter handed them!

    As for private schools accommodating disabilities, I think we're going off on the wrong track here. The school is not being asked to provide accommodations for the student. They're being asked to provide the same education any other student gets- to my knowledge, the parents are not saying that the school needs to provide above and beyond medical assistance or pay for medications or anything like that. My mom worked at a private school for many years. When parents tried to bring kids with disabilities in, they did tell them that they didn't have the resources to accommodate them (there was no special ed teacher, speech path, etc.) and they'd probably be better served in the public school. However, if a parent absolutely insisted they wanted the kid in, knowing full well he'd get no accommodations, modifications, or services for his disability, I believe the school could not turn the child down simply for the fact that he had a disability. They could say they weren't going to provide extra services, but if the parent just wanted the kid to get the same education as everyone else, I don't think they could say, "sorry, we don't want people with disabilities at this school." I know at least once my mom had a child with a pretty severe learning disability in her class, and she did tell the parent that there were excellent resources for that in the public school system, but the parent chose to keep the student in my mom's class all year anyway.
     
  27. SpaceAngel

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    I may be wrong, but I believe the school provides medical care/insurance for students, as well.
     
  28. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    The ADA is actually over 200 pages and each time it is renewed they have to get more specific because people don't understand how to read this one main passage and assume it doesn't apply to them if it doesn't specifically list it. The following came from the ADA government website and is in the Question and Answer section.

    Q. What are public accommodations?

    A. A public accommodation is a private entity that owns, operates, leases, or leases to, a place of public accommodation. Places of public accommodation include a wide range of entities, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers. Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt from the ADA's title III requirements for public accommodations.

    Private schools DO fall into this category.

    BUT they also say this...

    Q. Does the ADA allow public accommodations to take safety factors into consideration in providing services to individuals with disabilities?

    A. The ADA expressly provides that a public accommodation may exclude an individual, if that individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be mitigated by appropriate modifications in the public accommodation's policies or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids. A public accommodation will be permitted to establish objective safety criteria for the operation of its business; however, any safety standard must be based on objective requirements rather than stereotypes or generalizations about the ability of persons with disabilities to participate in an activity.

    I believe the latter is what the law will have to answer. It has already ruled this is not the case for a day school. Now they will have an opportunity to rule whether this is the case for a boarding school. Could there be accommodations and procedures to help reduce these safety objections?
     
  29. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I don't know what the law currently says about modifying existing structures. I think they should put elevators in there. It probably does tell them to do so. But even without that, if all common spaces are on the first floor, technically as long as a ramp is provided, that child's classes can be moved to the first floor and thus accommodated.
     
  30. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    I don't believe everyone who doesn't feel the school is outright in the wrong necessarily agrees with the decision...we just think as a private school they have certain freedoms regarding requirements and such. I could wrong in my thinking because I don't know the laws, but my instinct reaction was, "Aw, poor guy. But I guess they can enroll or not enroll whoever they wish."

    Could the school just have denied him "because" without citing his health? I don't understand why, as a private school, they had to or chose to offer an explanation.

    Are private colleges exempt as well, cut? Out of high school I attended a private Methodist college college. I am (was?) Methodist so that helped me get admitted and provided a "scholarship", but being Methodist wasn't a requirement. I wouldn't have thought a thing, though, if the school did in fact refuse anyone not affiliated with the religion. Obviously religion and disease are different (one is a choice), but I just figured just about any requirement was fair game for a private school.
     
  31. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    They do, however, they are also in the legal position of the child's guardian, so they can manage any benefits the child is eligible for, such as Medicaid and SSI, which would offset at least a portion of the cost of medical care.

    I'm not quite sure where I stand on this issue. I can see both sides of it.
     
  32. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    My understanding was that this school accepts students of good character who need a chance to get away from where they are in life. If he qualified for admission in all ways besides his HIV status, I'm assuming he's responsible enough to handle his disease.
     
  33. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Private schools are not necessarily exempt (that includes colleges) according to that part of the government website but religious organizations are. Because many private schools are part of religious organizations, I think this is where the misconception comes in. I personally don't understand why religious organizations are exempt from something related to disabilities but the exemption provision is there.

    There are a few case laws on the tip of my tongue but I would have to do some digging to find them. I don't have this stuff solidly memorized.

    Where the law gets murky for me is we have ADA and IDEA. They each have their own purposes but they seem to overlap yet provide some confusion as well. THAT is an area I would love to explore more.
     
  34. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    They admit students who fall in between "good character" and "juvenile detention". The kids they accept often have some mild to moderate social and emotional issues. They actively seek kids who are heading down the wrong path, but haven't gotten to the point of being a danger to others. The application asks, in detail, about the child's psychological history and the family's history with Child Protective Services. These kids are not the "cream of the crop", they're the "diamonds in the rough".
     
  35. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    It's a Catholic school so if cutNglue is correct then it's probably okay? I've always wondered about it not so much from a future student standpoint but if one of our kids were to have an injury that required a wheelchair. We have 3 stories but a number of stair cases that are like half floors basically. We technically don't have a "first floor." To get to any of the classrooms you would have to go either up or down a flight of stairs. Not to mention a set of stairs to even get into the building. It's an old school that has an addition so the only thing at entry level is our gym. We also only have two teachers per subject area so we would be switching rooms every year because we usually teach every other year. Not to mention that they would have no way to access science labs, music room, art room, etc... I think they would have to completely redo the school with the way it's set up. I know it's really confusing to describe :lol:
     
  36. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    If the school is responsible for the medical of the students who are admitted, I would think that a student who has the potential to have high medical issues/costs would be reason to potentially deny someone admission. If they don't want to take care of that students medical while he is there, then they should be able to say no.
     
  37. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    The "undue burden" (related to financial burden) part of ADA is very very narrow.
     
  38. Cerek

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    That would be the double-edged side of separation of church and state.
     
  39. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    In this situation, if they don't want to accept the student, they should not be forced to.


    As for the comments earlier in regards to a school worried about the spread of the disease because it is a 24/7 school and students have the potential to sneak around..
    Some said they should have better supervision and they should not see it as okay to let happen with any students. When you have students living together 24/7 in that type of situation, you are going to have some students at certain ages sneak around for some degree of "funny business". I personally don't think they should be having sex, and that should not be permitted, but to expect the students not to sneak around and have some fun, is just not necessary. I often wish I had gone to summer camps when I was younger just for that opportunity to sneak around after hours and have some fun. No harm, no foul.
     
  40. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Safety is a separate issue than finances.
     
  41. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I agree, the safety one is somewhat lacking, the financially one I would say is stronger. The fact that they are a private school and are saying no, is all I need to hear, they should have never given their reason why.
     
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