Denying a Delaware County teen who is HIV-positive admission to their school, ended up costing the Milton Hershey School $700,000.
That's how much the school will pay the boy and his mother to settle a discrimination suit.
The teen, who is an honors student, applied to the school in April 2011. The Hershey School educates low-income and socially disadvantaged students. It's financed by a trust that holds the controlling interest in The Hershey Company.
After telling the boy he couldn't enroll, the school explained to NBC10: "In order to protect our children in this unique environment, we cannot accommodate the needs of students with chronic communicable diseases that pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others."
The boy and his mother talked exclusively to NBC10's Denise Nakano after he was turned away.
"I feel that no other teenager should go through this, being denied just because they have HIV," he said.
After the suit was filed, the U.S. Justice Department weighed in with some guidance and the school changed its policy saying it would begin treating HIV-positive applicants the same as other applicants.
The principal called the teenager to apologize and said he was welcome to attend school this fall. The family decided it was no longer in the teen's best interest to attend.
The settlement is not an admission of liability by the school. In addition to paying the family $700,000, as part of the agreement, the school has to also pay $15,000 in civil penalties assessed by the U.S. Justice Department. The school must keep a statement about the settlement on its website for at least a year and come up with a new non-discrimination and equal opportunity policy. Teachers and staffers will go through training that focuses on HIV-related discrimination and students will be educated about the importance of treating people with disabilities in a respectful and courteous manner.