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Hershey Boarding School Settles HIV Bias Lawsuit

PHILADELPHIA (CN) - A Pennsylvania boarding school accused of denying enrollment to a 13-year-old because he has HIV has settled federal discrimination charges.

The Department of Justice said Wednesday that the settlement requires the Milton Hershey School, in Hershey, Pa., to pay the boy and his mother $700,000 and pay a $15,000 civil penalty to the United States.

A lawsuit filed in November 2011 accused the tuition-free school for low-income students of not having a legitimate medical basis for refusing to enroll the child - known by the pseudonym Abraham Smith. HIV is not transmitted through "day-to-day contact in schools or social settings," according to the complaint.

U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger, for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, applauded the school "for working so cooperatively to amend its position on this matter."

The school, founded in 1909 by the eponymous chocolatier and his wife, said in a statement that it "would no longer deny admission to otherwise qualified applicants who have HIV," and that it has "offered Abraham Smith admission for the fall semester."

Settlement papers will be submitted to the court "within the next month," according to the school.

The AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania represents Abraham and his mother.

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