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This 13-year-old from Delaware County, Pa. seems like the perfect candidate for a private boarding school: He's an honor student, is active in sports, and is studying two different foreign languages, NBC Philadelphia reports.
So, then, why did the Milton Hershey private boarding school deny him admission? According to the boy's mother, and the lawsuit filed against the school, the rejection centers around one thing: the fact that her son is HIV positive.
In a statement released to WCAU, the school officially says that the decision was "difficult," but that they reject the boy because they could not "put their children at risk." Currently the school has 1,850 children already enrolled.
(Visit NBC Philadelphia to read the full statement.)
Ronda Goldfein of the AIDS Law Project is representing the boy in filing the discrimination suit against the school, arguing that Milton Hershey violated the boy's civil rights. Goldfein told the station the rejection goes against the school's mission.
"If you have a school that's open to the public, then it's open to the public," Goldfein told NBC Philadelphia. "If you have a student that has a particular need and requests assistance, then you accommodate. You don't simply say we don't like you, we don't like your diagnosis, you can't come here."
Goldfein told The Patriot-News that, contrary to the school's statement, her client "does not need any special accommodations, nor did he ask for any."
In the report, she continues by saying the denial is a direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which considers HIV/AIDS a "protected disability, which means that as a public accommodation, a private school is required to provide services to people with HIV/AIDS unless it can prove doing so would be an undue burden."
WCAU reports the boy has been living with HIV his entire life.
Federal discrimination suits against schools have surfaced elsewhere as well. In July, 18-year-old Kymberly Wimberly and her mother sued their school district near Little Rock, Ark. for allegedly denying Wimberly valedictorian status because she's black -- despite the fact that she earned the highest GPA at McGehee Secondary School.
The boy's name has been changed to a pseudonym in the complaint to protect his identity.
Read the full complaint below:
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