Dispatches from the fight against homelessness and AIDS
Posted by Tim Murphy , September 19, 2013
Rick Neal, superintendent of schools in Pea Ridge, Arkansas
Quick update to the story we ran on Monday (see below): Seems like Rick Neal, superintendent of schools in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, has let back into school three kids (two of them with disabilities) he previously said couldn’t come back until their foster parents documented that they didn’t have HIV.
“The issue has been resolved,” he said in a statement. But the Disability Rights Center of Arkansas still wants to know why the school demanded HIV testing of them in the first place, since HIV isn’t typically communicable in a school setting. Word seems to be that there were behavioral issues with the kids. In which case, the school district should brush up on its science and learn that even if one of the kids tried to scratch somebody’s eyes out or bite off a finger, that’s not going to transmit HIV.
Special thanks to Arkansas Campaign to End AIDS (C2EA) member Kari Coffman for chatting with us from Arkansas about this story, and for all the work she did on the ground to get the word out about this. Apparently Neal released a statement saying: “It is very unfortunate that information regarding this situation is being released by outside organizations.” Well, that’s what happens when you make decisions with information from 1983!
Housing Works, the Campaign to End AIDS (C2EA) and HIV activists in northwest Arkansas urge you to contact Rick Neal, the superintendent of the Pea Ridge, Arkansas, school district and tell him not to ban from school kids who have HIV. Contrary to the school district’s thinking, HIV is not transmissible in a school environment!
Neal’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org and his phone number is 479.451.8181. His mailing address is: Rick Neal, Pea Ridge School District, 781 West Pickens Rd., Pea Ridge, AR 72751.
According to news reports, the district has told the foster parents of three children, two of whom have disabilities, that the children may not come to school until the parents have produced documentation that the children are HIV-negative. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits schools from banning children with HIV. Moreover, the school district’s own website says (at the bottom) that it “does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin or disability in any of its policies, practices or procedures.”
“I’ve been on my phone and social media nonstop protesting this,” says Kari Coffman, an openly HIV-positive member of C2EA who lives outside Ft. Smith, Arkansas. “I’ve gotten retweets from Hydeia Broadbent and Magic Johnson.”
The Disability Rights Center of Arkansas is on the case.
Housing Works will keep you posted on the story.blog comments powered by Disqus
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