School Board Votes to Appeal Decision Allowing AIDS Victim in Classes
KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) _ Despite a state order that 14-year-old AIDS victim Ryan White be allowed to return to school, the local school board has voted unanimously to fight to keep the boy out of classes.
The eight-member Western School Corp. board’s vote Tuesday came on the first anniversary of the date White was diagnosed as having AIDS, said his mother, Jeanne White.
The board said it would appeal the order to protect the health of the boy and the 2,400 other students in the system.
″The AIDS puzzle is incomplete,″ said school board President Daniel Carter, holding up a poster of a semi-complete jigsaw puzzle with the word ″AIDS″ across it.
″We know for a fact that AIDS patients are particularly susceptible to diseases such as meningitis and tuberculosis,″ Carter said. ″Is it possible that an AIDS patient could carry one of these other communicable diseases undetected into school? I don’t know. Does anyone?″
White, a hemophiliac, contracted acquired immune deficiency syndrome through a tainted blood transfusion and was unable to return to class until April, when school officials said he would have to repeat the seventh grade.
Because he had missed so much school, and during the summer, school officials announced he would not be readmitted this year because of the deadly disease which attacks the body’s immune system.
White’s mother filed suit and he has been following classwork at home through a telephone linkup.
On Nov. 25, state hearing examiner Kathleen Madinger Angelone ruled White should go to school when his health permits, in accordance with state Board of Health guidelines for children with AIDS.
The disease was first identified among hemophiliacs, intravenous drug users, and male homosexuals. As of Dec. 2, 1985, AIDS had struck 15,172 people in the United States and claimed 7,777 lives.
The order noted no one in the youth’s immediate family has developed AIDS or displays the presence of the AIDS antibody.
Carter said the board has until Jan. 8 to file its appeal of the state’s finding. The case is expected to move next to the State Board of Special Education Appeals, from which it likely would move into federal court.
Mrs. White, who did not attend the hearing, could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. A person who answered the telephone said Mrs. White was asleep and would not be disturbed.
Ronald Colby, principal of Western Middle School, said the school board has spent at least $36,000 so far in the legal battle.
″At this point we have to appeal,″ Colby said. ″We’ve taken it this far. We’ve taken a stand and it’s still a very popular one with the community.″