Apparently, Arkansas is stuck in a time warp and thinks it’s the 1980s. Ryan White made news headlines in 1985 when parents and teachers in Kokomo, Indiana went on a witch hunt and wanted White removed from school because of his HIV status. Imagine, now 30 years later, and after the passing of the Ryan White Care Act (August, 1990,) Arkansas is trying to pull the same tricks.

Three siblings may no longer attend classes in the Pea Ridge Public School District. The Arkansas school system says that they won’t be allowed back until they provide documentation showing they are not HIV positive. Apparently  Arkansas forgot it is illegal to ban children from attending public schools based on HIV status — perceived or otherwise.

The ADA states:

Does the ADA also prohibit State and local governments from discriminating against persons with HIV or AIDS? Yes. The ADA applies to all State and local governments, their departments and agencies, and any other instrumentalities or special purpose districts of State or local governments. For example:
• A public school system may not prohibit a child with HIV or AIDS from attending elementary school.
• A county hospital may not refuse to treat persons with HIV or AIDS.
• A local police station must make sure that TTY users, including persons with HIV or AIDS, can call 911 and other emergency phone numbers directly, without having to go through a relay system.
• A city emergency medical technician may not refuse to treat or transport a person with HIV or AIDS.
• A State-owned nursing home may not refuse to accept patients with HIV or AIDS.
• A county recreation center may not refuse admission to a summer camp program to a child whose brother has AIDS.
• A paratransit system may not refuse to transport an eligible rider to an appointment at a medical clinic because that clinic specializes in treatment of HIV and AIDS.

The Disability Rights Center of Arkansas sent out a statement Friday afternoon calling the school district’s refusal to allow three students to continue attending school“unlawful”, saying the students were being denied the right to attend school until documentation proves they are not HIV-positive.

Rick Neal, the Superintendent, told a local news channel that he had no statement to give and that he could “neither confirm nor deny the story.”

I guess one confirmation is that there are now 3 siblings at home and not at school.

According to the Disability Rights Center, school officials discovered an evaluation on a student that stated the mother and sister were both HIV-positive. The foster parents of the three siblings were then told the children could not return to school until they provided documentation that the students were HIV-negative.  The superintendent allegedly told one of the foster parents that the children could no longer return to school.

Way to go Pea Ridge School District.

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