The Milton Hershey School in Hershey,
Pennsylvania will pay $700,000 to an HIV-positive teen it barred from
On Wednesday, the Justice Department
announced the settlement, which resolves charges that the school
violated the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused the
teen enrollment based on his HIV status.
The school has agreed to pay $700,000
to the teen, known by the pseudonym Abraham Smith, and his mother and
adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination based on HIV status. It
also must pay a $15,000 civil penalty to the government.
The school denied Smith entry last
year. School president Anthony Colistra later reversed course,
saying the school was reserving a spot this fall for Smith. He also
apologized to the family “for the impact of our initial decision.”
“Children should not be denied
educational opportunities because they have HIV,” Thomas E. Perez,
assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said in a
statement announcing the settlement. “This settlement sends a
clear message that unlawful discrimination against persons with HIV
or AIDS will not be tolerated.”
The school claimed last year that it
denied Smith entry because his HIV status represented a “direct
threat” to other students.
The Milton Hershey School was
originally conceived as a school for orphan boys by its founders,
chocolate magnate Milton S. Hershey and his wife, Catherine.