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December 2nd, 2011
09:52 PM ET

Video: School rejects HIV applicant

We’re Keeping Them Honest, as a school rejects a 13-year-old honors student because he has HIV.

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Crystal

    This makes me sick. That poor child! What is wrong with people?

    December 5, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  2. Bryan Jones

    Let me start by saying that I feel for this young man. He is going to have to live through a lifetime of challenges, most I could not even begin to imagine. That being said, I feel that too many people seem to want to bring to light the things that go wrong with Milton Hershey School. I read about my Alma Mater or hear about it on television or radio and it is almost always about a negative issue...the sexual abuse, the misuse of the Trust's funds, and now this. I wish that someone would instead, at least once, focus on all of the positives that this school has done for the thousands of children that have passed through the doors of the school that Milton Snavely Hershey created with his own money and enormous heart. Milton Hershey School has an obligation to the current and future students of that institution. This is not a day school, where the child goes home every day. This IS his or her home for 10 or more months out of the year. This was MY home for 7 years. This is STILL my family that the media continues to put in the spotlight. The school is not perfect. No one ever said it was. I stand by my Alma Mater, my school, my family, just as I am sure that thousands of others who have been priviledged enough to benefit from Mr. Hershey's generousity will.

    December 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  3. Claudia Hofsass

    Education is available to every child in this country, PUBLICLY! Milton Hershey School, is a PRIVATE school, with a VERY unique enrollment process! I am an alumnae and a mother of 3, I feel the school is doing the RIGHT thing. This is one child, they are looking at the well being of THOUSANDS of children ALREADY enrolled! He is NOT the first kid to be denied enrollment to MHS and I'm sure he won't be the last. In the close living environment we lived in, MANY things could happen that would put the other kids at risk. So with that said, the media, NON Milts, and those that choose to NOT educate themselves on the HISTORY of our school, please LEARN about what MHS is and who they take care of before you speak! Also MHS has had numerous students that had cancer and they took care of their medical bills. Because cancer is not a communicable disease and they were already enrolled there. You have to have a certain IQ to qualify enrollment, not be on certain behavior medications, or certain pre-existing diseases. Unfortunately, this kid has NOT met the pre-enrollment criteria that the current students and past Alumni were able to do. So keep doing what your doing and I hope your mother understands that like her, many parents are also concerned with the well being of their children!
    Claudia MHS class of 1994

    December 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  4. Fred

    The ADA explicitly states that it is against Federal Law to discriminate against a person with HIV/AIDS and this school is violating that law out of fear and just plain ignorance! This kid, through no fault of his own, was born with HIV and not is condemned to educate and better himself? Where is Magic Johnson and Bono and Bill Clinton to rise up and speak up for him? Im raging with anger over this story! I can't believe that in todays society their are people just plain out stupid and ignorant. Mr Hershey would be ashamed of this decision and the Hershey family should also speak up! They want to discriminate? Well, they should loose all state and federal funding, assistance, tax status and make them suffer. This kid suffers enough every day and now this? Im simply appalled. This is America isn't it? Because for a minute their I though it was not!

    December 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  5. Dorothy Butterson

    I am a former MHS student from class of 91. I can stand by MHS 100%. Students / teenagers do fool around and make decisions based on spare of the moment. When you go to MHS you are living with your peers and with them the entire time. Your relationships grow stronger then in any other environment of a school setting. MHS has tough decisions to make and they have to base them on the factors of ALL students and staff at MHS. They are a great school with great people. The decision is not based on one student – it is based on 1800 plus students that MHS is responsible for.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  6. Joni

    Regarding the HIV positive student denied entrance to the MIlton Hershey school, I am wondering if this is not a "cya" effort from the powers that be at Milton Hershey. Considering the recent events at Penn State, I would not be surprised if the school board realizes that their decision will very likely be overturned in court and are just covering themselves so if something did happen they could defend themselves by saying "We tried to prevent this".
    I would also like to know where exactly these people think children with HIV should go to school?
    They deserve the same opportunities offered to all children in this country.

    December 3, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  7. Cecelia

    Because of child's age probably cannot be discussed but school there may be serious concerns about the emotional makeup of the 13 yr old or maybe it is simple – being an honor roll student maybe he has other options, or maybe another equally worthy student completing for open position at schiool, etc. Honor roll status of a student doesn't necessarily say everything. Calculated expensive legal move makes one wonder why this route. Sounds like a lot to get to the bottom of,,, I have a profoundly disabled 19 yr old daughter and I see a lot of bizarre behavior. The ADA is important but so is common sense.

    December 3, 2011 at 4:36 am |
  8. Rhonda

    I am still amazed that in 2011 we still have discrimination!!! I have a disability for which I was born with I was so grateful for 1990 when The American's with Disability Act was signed into law!! I am a disability advocate for myself & for other's who can't speak for themselves! I hope & pray in this case of the 13 year old boy with HIV will WIN to send a message to everyone that it's against the law to discriminate!!!

    December 3, 2011 at 4:34 am |
  9. Alex

    Anderson, you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the case. The school does not want to discriminate against HIV Positive kids, unfortunately they do not have the resources to be a constant police force. If your child was dating an HIV Positive kid from high school, I can guarantee you would want to have an individualized and personal talk with him/her. That is simply unfeasible for the school and so they are doing the only responsible thing.

    December 3, 2011 at 4:24 am |
  10. mandy cordray

    I think this is a very difficult decision to make. The law gives us freedom. Freedom does come at a cost to us and with that we need boundaries. I once was told that I could not attend a six flags trip with our youth ministry because i lived with my then boyfriend. My now, husband and I were very sad and we struggled to understand. Through the years I've learned some people are afraid to let a person in that they are not comfortable with. Basically, it boils down to, LIFE is not FAIR. We have to let those who are afraid, do what they have too. It is a boundary for these people that is need of prayer. Decisions based on a person's medical well being could actually start a medical label war between the infected and the healthy that we may never be able to heal. A War that we do not need at this time in our lives on this earth. PEACE is growing even farther away.....terribly sad in Illinois. mandy

    December 3, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  11. Sandra

    Let's say that the worst case scenario happens where an HIV student who becomes enrolled in the school spreads the HIV virus. Would the school be then responsible for the student's actions?

    December 3, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  12. Mark Leili

    My son was born hiv positive. He was raised in a small town in Colorado. He had a friend. When the parents found out he was hiv positive, this relationship was cut off. The effect was devastating. He is such a great kid. The town nurse told these people that he was a threat to their health. Unbelievable. This was 1998. His mom and sister had both died from this disease. He however has survived and to this day is healthy. He is 26 years old now. This school is living in a vacuum. Perhaps they would like all hiv positive people to be sent to some island like Molokai. I hear they have moved beyond the stigma of leprosi!

    December 3, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  13. Barb

    I want to know if all the students have been tested for HIV as I have heard that children across the world have HIV and don't even know it, some of these special needs children could have it due to transfusions etc....how can they single this child out....also test the teachers and others who work there!!! I think they might be surprised on test results.

    December 3, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  14. insidehershey

    Anderson: Milton Hershey School does not accept some students with other disabilities. Blind kids cannot attend, Mentally Handicapped cannot, those who are unable to walk cannot, deaf students cannot. These are also disabilities. Please consider and learn about MHS before attacking it.

    December 2, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  15. Timothy

    I urge eveyone to join me in boycotting everything Hershey - their foods as well as the city - until they reverse this immoral and illegal decision.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
  16. Julie Brown

    I had no idea that people with HIV are protected under the ADA.... How is having HIV a disability? Maybe 20 years ago it was okay to have this under the ADA when we didn't know that much about HIV... With 2012 around the corner and what we now know about HIV perhaps the ADA needs to be reviewed again.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  17. Dan Parker

    It seems obvious to me that the Hershey School wants a free pass. When the courts rule against them and the student is enrolled, they cannot be held responsible for any future event concerning the medical condition of this child. I think it speaks more of our litigious society than it does about Hershey.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  18. chris

    ok i hope these same educators paid attention to the whole situation in Indiana with the Ryan White which got sued and this actually created the Ryan White Program

    December 2, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  19. Tricia

    This is appalling. I am shocked that this woman would get on television and say what she has said. But the worst part is how this must be impacting this poor kid. Though the court case will no doubt favor him, the personal emotional damage to this child is done.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  20. Todd

    Why not tell the public the shocking secret that HIV is only passed 1 in 1000 unprotected sex acts with an infected partner? See the work of Nancy Padian. And how big is the study that shows that a 1 in 1000 event is reduced 96% when antiretrovirals are taken? You'd need 10's of thousands in the study to make that claim...

    December 2, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  21. Greg G

    A boarding school that's concerned their students could possibly have sex with each other? They should be 100% certain that with the supervision they provide, they wouldn't have to worry about that. I'm glad I'm not the parent of one of their students. I'd be wondering what's going on there.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  22. jc nixon

    I was exposed and contracted HIV some 16 years ago. I am currently deemed disabled by the U.S. government. I think that if this school is funded in any way by our government all funds and support should be STOPPED. Have we not progressed medically and more greatly morally, if not then we are doomed as a society.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  23. dan delepine

    I am a retired teacher and mental health professional. If this student wants a home and school I am happy to help, Let the student know he or she has a place to stay and be with an advocate. This is horrible

    December 2, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  24. Joanne Pennington

    Outrageous ! Socially , ethically , morally reprehensible ....Senseless discrimination on a campus supposedly so famous for assisting children with issues of all kinds, I am just speechless, embarrassed and disgusted.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  25. Mandy

    I can understand why the Hershey School hesitates to admit the HIV+ teen. I think they are concerned for their liability and having the courts order the student be admitted makes it difficult to hold the school liable in the future should something happen. It is an unfortunate circumstance that a teen would be HIV+ at all.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  26. Steve

    By allowing this to go to court (and the court making the dicision) the school can then duck the blame if something is to happen between the students and another child is to get sick.
    The court takes on the responsibility and the school is not as sueable

    December 2, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  27. Dave

    I don't see what the issue is. The student is being denied an education for no reason other than the school admin. doesn't want this student to attend. "unique environment" or not the student should receive a FULL education no matter what disease the have. I believe the school just does not want to accomidate a student that could make other students uncomfortable and that is just wrong and plain discriminating.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  28. MK

    Hard questioning is OK, but your tone was hectoring in interviewing the lady from PA. Might have received better answers if the tone was conversational. Usually like your show, but this was not proper journalistic style.

    December 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm |