5 News (09.16.2013)
The Disability Rights Center of Arkansas reported that the Pea Ridge School District has notified the foster parents of three school-aged siblings that the students could not attend school until the foster parents provided documentation that they were HIV-negative. Tom Masseau, the center’s executive director, stated that denying the children the right to attend school was illegal because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Two of the siblings had disabilities, according to the Disability Rights Center.
The students’ dismissal occurred after Pea Ridge School District officials discovered during a summer review of student records that one of the siblings and their mother were HIV-infected. School officials informed the foster parents on Monday, September 16, that the children could not attend school until they proved they did not have HIV. The children returned to school on Tuesday, but were not allowed to attend class or participate in extracurricular activities.
Superintendent Rick Neal confirmed that the district had denied the students access and requested their HIV test results to “formulate a safe and appropriate educational plan” for the siblings. The school district had not sent out official district-wide notification to parents.