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US fines school for turning down teen with HIV

September 13, 2012 15:15 IST

The United States administration has fined a school in Pennsylvania for barring admission to a 13-year-old with HIV saying it violated American law.

The Milton Hershey School in Pennsylvania said it had 'discontinued processing' Abraham Smith's application when it learned he had the virus that causes AIDS, according to a copy of the legal settlement released on Wednesday, the Huffington Post reported.

The school for lower income and socially disadvantaged students is financed by a trust that holds the controlling interest in candy manufacturing giant The Hershey Company.           

The school, which serves disadvantaged children 4-17 years old, said the decision was the result of an 'analysis of potential risks to other students and the legal rights of Abraham Smith or other applicants with HIV'.

The justice department said that while the school 'did not act with malice or animus' toward Smith, it was unable to show how admitting him or other HIV-positive students  would endanger others.

The government concluded that the school had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and ordered the school to pay $700,000 to the Smith family and an additional $15,000 in fines.

As part of the settlement, the government has pledged not to take legal action against the school and the school has pledged not to exclude people with disabilities, including HIV, the justice department said.

The private boarding school is also now developing training on HIV-related issues for its employees and students. School officials previously said the boy was denied admission because a chronic communicable disease would pose a threat to the health and safety of the students.

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