Milton Hershey School and AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania announce settlement
Milton Hershey School and AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania today announced that they have entered into a settlement with the Department of Justice, which resolves all outstanding issues in the case of a teenaged boy with HIV. Last year the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania sued the School in federal court for failing to admit the student who uses the pseudonym Abraham Smith due to his HIV status, claiming it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and state law. The U.S. Department of Justice subsequently opened an investigation of whether the School's decision violated the ADA.
In August, after receiving guidance from the Justice Department, Milton Hershey School announced it had changed its position and would no longer deny admission to otherwise qualified applicants who have HIV. The School offered Abraham Smith admission for the fall semester.
Mother Smith has decided not to have her son attend the School. The parties have now reached an agreement on a monetary settlement of his claims and on all other issues.
Because this settlement involves a minor, it is subject to review by the court before it is final. The parties will be submitting those papers within the next month.
Under the agreement the School will be issuing a new Equal Opportunity policy to include HIV and will be supplementing its education and training for staff and students on the ADA, HIV, Universal Precautions, and other topics. The Department of Justice will be monitoring the School's compliance for four years.
"We had hoped that the student known as Abraham Smith would attend Milton Hershey School this fall and experience the life-changing opportunities this unique environment provides," said Dr. Anthony Colistra, president of Milton Hershey School. "He and his mother have decided that Abraham will not attend, and we respect their decision. I am sorry for the impact of our initial decision on Abraham and his mother. We are fully committed to adopting the provisions outlined by the Department of Justice, and enhancing our service to children in need."
The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania applauds the Milton Hershey School's decision to no longer refuse admission to students with HIV and their commitment to educate their community.
Sept. 12, 2012