HARRISBURG, Pa. — A ninth-grader from the Philadelphia area is considering an admissions offer by a private boarding school after it announced a new policy to treat HIV-positive applicants the same as others.
A lawyer for the boy, whose lawsuit against the Milton Hershey School alleges violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Monday he was thinking about it.
School president Anthony Colistra defended the school’s previous decisions regarding the HIV-positive teenager, using the same pseudonym for him used in his federal lawsuit, Abraham Smith. He said the admissions offer, and an apology, were issued to him last month.
‘‘Although we believed that our decisions regarding Abraham Smith’s application were appropriate, we acknowledge that the application of federal law to our unique residential setting was a novel and difficult issue,’’ Colistra said. ‘‘The US Department of Justice recently advised us that it disagrees with how we evaluated the risks and applied the law. We have decided to accept this guidance.’’
The boy’s lawyer, Ronda Goldfein, said that the school’s actions did not end the lawsuit and that the offer of admission for the coming year was being assessed.
‘‘We’re certainly delighted that the school understands their obligations under the law and intends to follow them,’’ Goldfein said. ‘‘This case is not settled. This is one very important piece of it.’’
The most recent activity in the lawsuit, filed late last year in US District Court in Philadelphia, occurred last week when the judge scheduled a pretrial conference for September.
Colistra said the private boarding school also is developing training on HIV-related issues for its employees and students.