In December 2011, on the eve of World AIDS Day, the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania filed suit against the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pa., for refusing to enroll ‘Abraham Smith’ (not his real name), a then 13-year-old pupil, only because he has HIV. The complaint alleged violations of multiple anti-discrimination laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
The Milton Hershey School, a cost-free, private, coeducational home and school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, requires students to “come from a family of low income, limited resources, and social need; be from the ages of 4-15 years old; have the ability to learn; be free of serious emotional and behavioral problems … ; be able to take part in the School’s program; and be born in the United States,” the lawsuit says.
Abraham – an honor-roll student – was qualified in every way, but the School claimed that his presence would constitute a “direct threat” to the health and safety of the school’s 1,800 students.
On June 1, a federal judge in Philadelphia denied the Milton Hershey School’s request to move the case from Philadelphia to central Pennsylvania, where the school is located.
In denying the school’s motion, Judge C. Darnell Jones, II of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found “the issue involved in this case is not uniquely or necessarily tied solely to MHS or the Middle District of Pennsylvania but instead is relevant to the lives of over one million HIV-infected people nationwide, many of whom are currently in congregate-living settings and are not creating a direct threat to others.”
What follows is a list of documents filed in the Milton Hershey School case.
- Download PDF: Milton Hershey School’s Answer with Affirmative Defenses to Amended Complaint and Counter-claim for Declaratory Judgement (filed 2/3/2012)
- Download PDF: Abraham Smith and Mother Smith’s Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Transfer Venue to the Middle District of Pennsylvania (filed 2/13/2012)
- Download PDF: Abraham Smith and Mother Smith’s Answer with Affirmative Defenses to Defendant’s Counterclaim for Declaratory Judgement (filed 2/27/2012)