The family of an HIV-positive boy sued a boarding school in Hershey, Pennsylvania after it denied admission to the 13-year-old citing safety concerns, a school official said on Thursday.
The Milton Hershey School, a cost-free, private school for roughly 1,850 socially disadvantaged pre-kindergarten through high school students founded by the Hershey chocolate company, defended the controversial decision.
“In order to protect our children in this unique environment, we cannot accommodate the needs of students with chronic communicable diseases that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others,” said Connie McNamara, a spokesman for the Milton Hershey School, located roughly 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
The boy “is an honor roll student and an avid athlete” who controls his HIV through a regimen of medication that does not impact his school schedule, according to the lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.
The school, which was founded by industrialist Milton S. Hershey in 1909 to care for orphans, said their case is different because it is a boarding school “where children live in homes with 10 to 12 other students” on its campus “24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” McNamara said.