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. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I see the financial one as being the weakest argument presented thus far.

    Finances, except in certain very specific scenarios, is not an acceptable argument against denying services to people with disabilities. At least not in this country.
     
  2. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    But they are a private school. Why should they have to spend extra money to support someone if they are allowed to pick and choose who they admit. If I run a place where I get to choose who I admit and there is someone who could potentially cost me significantly more than other people I can admit, I would deny them. I'm not concerned with the disability, I also don't look at HIV as a disability, like someone else said, is every STD considered a disability. This is not me looking at what the law says, more what I feel is right. The laws are not always right.
     
  3. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    The reason it is there is because every business would end up doing the same. There are other doctors this person can see. They don't have to watch a movie at the theater. They can eat somewhere else. Believe it or not, I do understand the money side of it. It is he reason I don't request an interpreter in every situation even if the law allows it. But when I do need one, I have been at the mercy of people saying that they dont have to provide the accommodation and I can go somewhere else if I need it. Luckily the law was on my side. Businesses don't get to decide that angle of it because speaking from the money management side, it would be prudent to never admit people with disabilities to have access to any part of public life because frankly it is costly for many accommodations. The undue burden clause is there to protect businesses but it is narrowly defined. It is not defined as...well it just doesn't make good business sense and I get to choose my clients thus I choose not to have this one.

    There are certain things you can't use in your "choosing."

    It might be not be fair from the business man's point of view and I can certainly understand that but without that protection, people with disabilities would still be completely segregated. It's a very important point of law.
     
  4. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Except HIV is not only a sexually transmitted disease. Chances are VERY good that this child did not acquire it through sexual activities. T
     
  5. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I get that entire side of it to an extent for most business situations. The fact that it is a school, is what puts me to the side of defending them. I feel private schools should have the ability to reject anyone for any reason, since public schools can not reject students.
    You are right on the side that it is not good business practice to start rejecting people for various reasons because you could turn off that entire group and any who support them from being able to make money at your business off of them.
    Still there are certain situations and instances where based on beliefs and personal values that I would like the opportunity if felt necessary to say no to someone.
     
  6. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    You are right, there are even more common ways that it could be transferred to another MINOR at that school. Accidents happen, and with those students living there 24/7, you can't have supervision 24/7, things happen. Liability right there with the other students.
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Even better: I just found the actual court filing from the school.

    You can find the entire filing here:
     
  8. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    That statement above says it very well. The needs of the one child should not be put in front of the health and safety of 1,800 others.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Even more good stuff...read the entire motion and you'll come across this little gem:

    So, the school is supposed to somehow keep all its students safe without telling all of the child's caregivers about his medical needs???? How in the world are they supposed to do that?
     
  10. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    Ok, I was on the fence before. I run a preschool that is full day and falls under the day school license.....in that aspect I have to follow to ADA. Then I am also the parent of a child with a condition that attends the Private Catholic school in town. I have heard the "we don't make accommodations" speech OFTEN.

    I could see both sides of the issue, until you found that the parents won't let the school disclose. Now, I think the parents have a flimsy case....and I am irritated by their lack of understanding of how many people would need to know in order to keep ANYONE safe! Grrr.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Very often, the headline doesn't tell the full story.

    I think the boy's attorney's jumped to file a lawsuit so they could be the first to claim the headlines and the moral high ground, whether it was justified or not.
     
  12. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I agree. Also, instead of disclosing to a small, private amount of people with FERPA requirements, they just disclosed to the whole world. That makes no sense.
     
  13. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Bob already made one good counterpoint; the fact that HIV is not only sexually transmitted actually strengthens the school's position.

    My counterpoint is this: If HIV is a disability, why aren't all chronic diseases a disability?
     
  14. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Yeah, I don't at all understand that, Cerek.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Without knowing the child's history, I think it's a fair guess that the child acquired HIV through his mother before he was born. Besides mother-to-child transfer, the other main ways to acquire HIV are through sexual activity and IV drug use. Aside from having sexual contact with other students, I'm not sure that it's very likely at all that this student could transmit HIV to other students. I mean, I guess it's possible that there is rampant IV drug use on campus, but that's a much bigger issue....So I guess I'm not seeing how this strengthens the school's position.

    As for the disability status of other chronic diseases, I think that's sort of irrelevant to this case. No one has filed a lawsuit against the ADA. If that happens, then that question might become more valid. For now, though, it's just a distraction from the facts of this case.
     
  16. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    The argument that HIV is not just transmitted through sexual contact strengthens the schools' argument that it presents a health risk to other students, because that means there are other ways the virus could be spread to other students. While the occurrence is low (compared to other causes), HIV can be transferred by coming into contact with blood from an HIV-positive person. That is why hospitals still require personnel to use universal precautions when treating HIV patients. That is not 1980's paranoi, that is 2011 reality. It requires the recipient to also have some form of open skin break, but if two boys are playing football, basketball or horsing around in the dorm, it could happen. IV drug use doesn't have to be "rampant" to be occurring, and given the background most of these boys come from, the possibility of drug use would seem to be higher among this group. Also, since HIV requires the transfer of body fluids, I would assume that sharing a "pipe" or bong (a type of drug use that is far more common than IV) would also present a potential risk.

    The status of other chronic diseases is relevant. If HIV is a disability because it is a chronic disease, then why are other chronic diseases included on the disability list as well? Since the very first arguments offered here (and in other discussions) focus on the fact that new medications have made the treatment and control of HIV so much better, why is it still considered a disability? There are plenty of other chronic diseases that can impair the quality of life and even be life threatening, but are not considered disabilities because the victim can still function normally with medical treatment. Seems like the ADA also needs to update their views on HIV, considering the new medicines and treatments available.

    HIV is a very serious condition, but if it really can be managed so much better with new medicines, then we have to ask if it really IS a disability anymore, or if it has joined the ranks of other chronic diseases that are equally as serious, but can be controlled (for the most part) through medication.
     
  17. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Wow...when I read the original post, I was certain that no one could change my viewpoint on this topic. However, now that I've read everyone's (valid) responses, I feel pretty torn. :confused:

    I definitely understand both sides of the issue.
     
  18. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    We don't know the counter argument yet. It could be that the family had a lot of history with people abusing privacy on this issue or reacting in ways that might be less than sensitive. They might have simply wanted more control over who was told what than a blanket document would cover. I have certain things in my child's case that I don't want just everyone who talks to him to know but it is important information for those in close working arrangements. Granted my information isn't a safety risk for others. We don't know who the school wanted to tell. I don't think just everyone needs to know.

    Sometimes fighting the cause can be a reason to be willing to sacrifice privacy especially if one thinks it might help others.
    I've been split since the beginning. I probably would have done what the school did but at the same time I can see the other side quite strongly as well. It is not a black and white case.

    As for wondering whether or not it is a disability, let me leave this thought... Sometimes the disability is not about the function of the cause but rather the perception and beliefs of the general population surrounding it.
     
  19. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    It sounds as if the school felt they should tell any staff member that might come in contact with the student and, frankly, I feel that is reasonable. If a child has any potentially serious health risk (such as diabetes, epilepsy, severe allergies, etc), then I think we can all agree ANY teacher or school employee that might supervise that child for any length of time should be aware of both the child's condition and the proper treatment if an emergency occurs (diabetic shock, grand mal seizure, bee sting, etc).

    If a school has a student with severe allergies to bee venom and the child gets stung during PE or recess when other teachers are supervising him/her, the school is going to look very foolish if they say, due to the privacy of the individual, only the P, school nurse and homeroom teacher knew the severity of the condition and had access to an epi-pen.

    I think the school has the right to decide how many staff members need to know about a student's condition, what precautions to take with the child and how to treat an emergency if it occurs. There is no way for them to do that if the parents refuse to let them tell their staff members about the child's condition.


    But that is still a direct contradiction of their insistence that the school restrict the number of people that could be informed about the student's condition.

    That's a fair argument and, in fact, is the same one I would make. HIV does have a stigma attached to it that most chronic diseases do not and, obviously, that stigma still exists, despite medical advances. I still don't completely agree with a condition being labeled a disability because of a perception rather than the actual effect the disease has on the individual, but I understand the logic behind the decision.
     
  20. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Regarding the risk of exposure to other students, I did some quick research into the transmission and prevention of the virus.

    Source: http://www.medicinenet.com/human_immunodeficiency_virus_hiv_aids/page2.htm#tocc

    "HIV is present to variable degrees in the blood and genital secretions of virtually all individuals infected with HIV, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. he spread of HIV can occur when these secretions come in contact with tissues such as those lining the vagina, anal area, mouth, eyes (the mucus membranes), or with a break in the skin, such as from a cut or puncture by a needle. The most common ways in which HIV is spreading throughout the world include sexual contact, sharing needles, and by transmission from infected mothers to their newborns during pregnancy, labor (the delivery process), or breastfeeding. (See the section below on treatment during pregnancy for a discussion on reducing the risk of transmission to the newborn.)"

    "There is little evidence that HIV can be transferred by casual exposure, as might occur in a household setting. For example, unless there are open sores or blood in the mouth, kissing is generally considered not to be a risk factor for transmitting HIV. This is because saliva, in contrast to genital secretions, has been shown to contain very little HIV. Still, theoretical risks are associated with the sharing of toothbrushes and shaving razors because they can cause bleeding, and blood can contain large amounts of HIV. Consequently, these items should not be shared with infected people. Similarly, without sexual exposure or direct contact with blood, there is little if any risk of HIV contagion in the workplace or classroom."


    OK, so I was wrong about HIV being spread through mucus or saliva. It is primarily transmitted through blood or genital secretions. So there is SOME risk to the health and safety of other students, but it appears reduction or prevention of those risks would not require extraordinary measures by the school.

    I would assume the student is intelligent enough to NOT share his toothbrush or razor with other students.
     
  21. comaba

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    But would the other students, roommates, be intelligent enough not to borrow his toothbrush or razor without knowing the potential risk?
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Why are we assuming that this 13 year old child is more intelligent than so many adults who have unintentionally spread HIV?

    And remember, those other students are unaware of his health status.
     
  23. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Good point, comaba. The risk doesn't come from Student X using someone else's toothbrush or razor. Instead, it comes from someone else using his. And, if the parents have their way, none of the other students in his dorm would know the potential risk they face if they did that.

    My 13 year old is very adamant about NOT sharing his toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant or even soap with his brothers because he doesn't want "their germs" on him. However, I don't think most 13 year olds are that concerned with it. His 14 year old brother (who is very mature for his age), certainly doesn't worry about using a different toothbrush if he can't find his.


    Another perspective I thought of overnight is to consider how we would feel if this student had a different disability - one that did not carry the stigma of HIV.

    For example, what if the student were confined to a wheelchair and the school didn't have ramps and other accommodations accessible? Would we be as upset that the school said "We don't have the accommodations for this student and do not feel it would be fair to our current 1850 students if we used a large portion of funds to create accommodations for one student. After reviewing the application, we feel the student's needs would be better met at a different facility." Sure, we might still be upset that the school wasn't willing to make accommodations that are required in public schools and buildings, but I think many more would also agree that the school has the right to make that decision since they are a private institution.

    If it is alright to not provide accommodations for one disability, then it should be alright not to provide accommodations for other disabilities.
     
  24. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    That's very true, Alice.

    One reason I would assume this 13 year old may be a little more intelligent regarding the precautions necessary with his disease is because - unlike those adults - this person has (presumably) lived with the disease his entire life and the necessary precautions, by now, would simply be a part of his every-day routine.

    Also, most 13 year olds are NOT sexually active, although they are entering the time when those desires begin. Young teens also don't have the same number of opportunities to act on their sexual impulses as adults (generally speaking). That will change as he grows older, but would not likely be a primary concern at 13.

    The next most common way to transmit his disease is IV drug use. Student X is an honors student and seems to come from a fairly secure and stable home (unlike many of the other boys at the facility), so again, it is reasonable to think IV drug use would not be a major concern with him.

    All of that can be used to logically support the position that the student is very conscious of his health risks and very prudent in taking necessary precautions. However, as you aptly pointed out, none of the other students would know about the potential risks (no matter how small they may be) and would not know to the necessity of taking any precautions.
     
  25. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    The more I read this stuff though the more I want to take an educational law class from an educational lawyer. I'm confused about the role of ADA vs. IDEA and who has to comply. Yet the website for ADA clearly states that private schools are not exempt. It does, however, say that religious organizations are (which many private schools fall under this category).
     
  26. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oh, I'm not assuming that he has sex at 13.

    But at some point while he's a student in that school he will be 17...

    I guess my whole point is that the school does have a valid basis for choosing not to admit this particular student over al lthe other candidates on its waiting list.

    It's not as cut and dried as the original article would have us believe. Things seldom are.
     
  27. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    That angle has me on the fence as well.
     
  28. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    As I understand it, the ADA requires that the school cannot discriminate against the student because of his HIV status. If he is otherwise qualified to attend the school, then he cannot be denied enrollment due to his disability. The school is also required to make reasonable accommodations so that the child can attend. So, I would suppose that the reasonable accommodations may be the sticking point.

    I was on the fence as well. However, I've decided that the school is wrong. Yes, this child has a documented communicable disease. However, how does the school know that another student doesn't have the same undiagnosed disease? The only real accommodation the school should make is to educate the staff and student body about preventing transmission of any disease or illness.

    That's really the bottom line. We can't always know who does and doesn't have a serious communicable disease. Little Johnny may have HIV, but what about little Susie who is a hepatitis C carrier and doesn't know it? We all need to be proactive about preventing transmission of disease in our daily lives, and we need to teach children the same.
     
  29. maya5250

    maya5250 Comrade

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    When I first read this thread, I was on the side that the student should be able to attend even if it was a private school. However, I see both sides of the debate.

    Side note: I can see how HIV status of a person and people who need to know can still be issue....we just recently uplift the ban on entry into U.S. by H.I.V.-Positive People seeking a vacation or new place to live.
     
  30. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    If you read the filing made my by the school, you'll find all the details of their side of the story. Here's what I got out of it:

    1) The parent failed to disclose a chronic, communicable disease in the initial application process. There's a question on the application asking about chronic medical needs, and in signing it, the parent attests that all the information is true to the best of her knowledge. The mother lied. On that point alone, the school could have denied admission for falsification.

    2) After the child was deemed to meet the basic qualifications, the application process continued. It is a lengthy one, including various evaluations and on-campus interviews. Sometime prior to the application process being completed, the child's medical needs were finally disclosed. At that point, the admissions committee bumped it up to higher administrators.

    3) The school began to investigate it's ability to properly take care of this student. They came up with a list of people at the school who would need to know about the child's medical needs, in order to ensure that the child was taken care of and the other students at the school were taken care of. The mother refused to approve the list. It was at this point the school stopped the admissions process. There's no real way of knowing if the child would have been admitted if he didn't have HIV, since a large part of the process was never completed.

    4) The school is very realistic about the chances of sexual contact on their campus. They admit, in spite of rules, supervision, and serious consequences if caught, that some of their students, just like a portion of the rest of the population of American teenagers, will engage in sexual behavior.

    For me, the sticking point is the refusal to consent to the sharing of information with those with a need to know. This school is unique, even among boarding schools. I can imagine the list of people with a need to know could get quite lengthy. I really don't understand how the parent expected her child to be properly taken care of without telling his caretakers about his needs. That just doesn't make sense.

    I agree with the school. It looks as if they made an honest effort and the parent placed restrictions that inhibited their ability to care for him. If they can't take care of him, then they can't admit him.
     
  31. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't agree with you on this issue. I teach in a school with almost 3,000 students, and I only know about my own students' medical conditions. Nowhere is a master list of student (or staff) medical issues posted or distributed or disclosed in any way. To me that would be an enormous violation of privacy.

    While I can understand that it might be easier for everyone if the custodian who sees the student fall down the stairs knows that the student has a history of seizures, it's just not feasible to notify him, or all the other staff members, about every single student's medical issue, or even just the big ones.
     
  32. bandnerdtx

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    And isn't it a violation of HIPAA to do so? Our district only allows us to know medical information about students in our classroom, and they always site the law as reason.
     
  33. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    The school compiled a specific list of people with a "need to know". The list is large because this is a full time residential school. This list includes the medical staff, teachers, houseparents, chaperones and administrators, and any other staff member that would have a direct responsibility for the child.
     
  34. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Ah, that makes more sense. I was responding to Cerek's assertion that any staff member who might come into contact with the student should know.
     
  35. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I think where I stand on the issue in general depends on if it is my child with HIV or my child at the school that I feel is likely to engage in risky behaviors that may lead to contracting HIV.

    For another thing to consider - in a daycare (at least in Texas) parents are not required to inform a daycare that their child has HIV and if they do, they can choose to not have the caregivers know at all. That would also mean no parent would know in any way and beleive me toddlers do things that would put them at a higher risk to catch blood-borne ilnesses.
     
  36. WaProvider

    WaProvider Fanatic

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    I agree that in child care there is no need to admit to infections. I hold a "child care" license even though we are classified as a preschool program. I do not agree with this policy, but the paperwork forms that the parents sign for admission also do not ASK you to fill out conditions and sign that you have answered truthfully. The parents filled out this section, or rather did not fill out this section, and lied......stating all was fine.

    The school in question deals with the child in a guardian status on some matters including medical. This would mean that the school would need to know, where daycare doesn't, so that the child could receive meds in the proper order. I do not agree with the ruling in Early Childhood settings but this important difference sets it aside as a non issue.

    I still feel that the parent refusing to disclose to the list of staff further ties the parents hands.

    I am frustrated by the parents behaviors.
     
  37. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    The difference is that this student knows he is HIV positive. When adults unintentionally spread HIV, it's because they don't know their status, as people can live for 10 years or more with absolutely no symptoms. They're not taking any precautions because they simply don't know that they need to. HIV is not a really strong virus that just "jumps over" to the next person on immeadiate contact. It's possible to have unprotected sex with someone and NOT get the virus (that would be stupid of course, just pointing out- it's actually not that easty to transmit to others). There seems to be a general lack of education on how this is spread. You cannot get HIV through saliva. You cannot get HIV through protected sex. You cannot get it through day to day contact, by touching someone, sharing things with them, or even drinking out of their cup or using silverware they just used. You cannot get HIV through sneezing, coughing, breathing, etc. You cannot get HIV through a small cut or a scrape, even if you and the positive person both have a scrape on their arm. Therefore, worrying about "roughhousing" or playing football with the other boys in the dorm is a non-issue. You would basically both need to have gaping wounds with gushing blood for HIV to be a serious concern. In situations like this, universal precautions are taken anyway, for all students since it's possible that there may be another student who has HIV or some other communicable disease that they're unaware of. All students should be educated in universal precautions and how to protect themselves and protected sex, regardless of whether this student attends the school or not. There has only been ONE documented case in the entire world of a person that got HIV by living with a positive person. It was a mother who got the virus from her son and supposedly had no risk factors herself- it was determined that she must have gotten it from treating her son when he was covered in sores from an opportunistic infection (since he was her own son, I guess it didn't occur to her to use precautions).

    As for disclosing to staff, I really don't see why that's important. The medical staff should know, for medications obviously- they would need to have a complete history of any student anyway. As for just any staff, if I were the parent I'd be worried about discrimination towards my child. Look at how much discrimination there is in this thread. That person should be taking universal precautions anyway, so they don't need to know that there actually is a child with HIV in the class. He wouldn't need any monitoring or extra medical attention in class. If I were the parent, I'd want him treated just like any other student, which sadly I do not think would happen if everyone were aware of his status.
     
  38. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 4, 2011

    How do you know that?

    Are you claming that people who are HIV+ ALL stop having unprotected sex upon the diagnosis?

    And that we know this young man will do the same?

    The school needs to look at the big picture: the health and welfare of its student body.

    The parents lied on the original application.

    When that lie came to light, they were still offered a place for their son-- contingent on steps the school felt were necessary to ensure the safety of its student body.

    The parents chose not to comply, but instead went for the lawsuit and the headline.

    What about the kid who DIDN'T lie on his application, but who is being denied that spot in this school?? What if THAT child is mmswm's son??
     
  39. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Dec 4, 2011

    Well for one, if an HIV positve person has an official diagnosis, and they continue to have unprotected sex and spread it someone else, they can be brought up on criminal charges that carry sentences equal to murdering someone. That seems like a pretty good reason not to do it. Yes, there are "bad people" in the world that may try to maliciously spread it, but I think those people are few and far beetween, and it's downright ridiculous to assume that this kid would be maliciously spreading it because he's an HIV positve teenager. That's a perfect example of discrimination. Sure, there are "bad people" that have HIV, but there are plenty of "bad people" that don't have it too. Worrying that this kid is going to go crazy and start spreading it on purpose is pretty similar to worrying that some other student is going to go crazy and start murdering students. I don't see that as a valid argument at all.
     
  40. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 4, 2011

    I'm not saying he's a bad kid.

    I am saying he's a kid. And that kids frequently feel invincible. That's why they sometimes drive too fast. That's why they sometimes do things that leave adults shaking their heads in wonder. That's why there are teen pregnancies. Because kids can sometimes fail to see the big picture; they tend to be "small picture, live in the moment" creatures.

    I've been to funerals for teenagers who thought they could beat a train through a railroad crossing (good kids, trying to beat a curfew. Seven died, one survived.) For a child in a car going too fast on a wet road. (Timmy died, throwing his body over his girlfriend's. She survived.) And to others, too many to count, who did things that they thought would be OK, "just this once."

    This young man may be the most intelligent child in the history of education. But he's a 13 year old boy, like every other 13 year old boy. The school felt some steps were necessary in order to protect the student body. The parents disagreed, lied, and went for the cheap headline instead of working with the school.

    If my kid were waitlisted at this school, I would be pretty unhappy to see this kid get the spot. And not because of the medical issue. But because of the disregard for the health of the other students, and the willingness to drag the name of the school through the mud for people unwilling or unable to dig out the whole story, and willing to take a headline as fact.
     
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