HERSHEY, PENNSYLVANIA – The Milton Hershey School announced last week that it had settled out of court with a 14-yearold boy and his mother in the AIDS discrimination lawsuit brought against the private school after it refused to enroll him because he is HIV-positive.
The school will pay $700,000, as well as $15,000 in civil penalties, and has agreed to provide HIV training for its staff and students. The Milton Hershey School is funded by the Milton Hershey School Trust, which owns controlling interest in The Hershey Company.
According to court documents, the school refused to enroll the Philadelphia-area boy last year, despite his being an honor roll student.
Officials cited his HIV status, arguing that he would be a threat to the health and safety of other students.
“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,” the school announced in December, after the case was filed.
Last month, officials reversed the policy, and said the school will consider all applicants with the same criteria, and offered to enroll the teen—who was identified in the suit under the pseudonym “Abraham Smith”—but that offer was declined. Candy maker Milton Hershey founded the school in 1909, to educate disadvantaged students at no cost.
The school is financed by the Milton Hershey School Trust and educates poor and socially disadvantaged students for free.
With over six billion dollars in assets, it is one of the wealthiest schools in the world, serving 1,818 students from Pre-K through 12th grade. It also is the largest residential education.