by Max Brantley
Today, Disability Rights Center of Arkansas, Inc. (DRC) issued a demand letter to the Arkansas Department of Human Services addressing the Pea Ridge School District’s recent ultimatum that three students undergo HIV testing before returning to school. The demand letter also urges that the results of the test not be given to the Pea Ridge School District. The release of HIV testing records to school districts by the state is a violation of federal law. Additionally, the Pea Ridge School District’s demand that the student’s test results be received prior to returning to school is a violation of federal law.I've sought a comment from DHS.
“Over the weekend, I was hopeful that the Superintendent and School Board would do the right thing and correct their previous communication to the foster family on requiring HIV test results,” said Tom Masseau, DRC Executive Director. “However, the Superintendent and School Board have continued to demonstrate ignorance of the law by discriminating against children with disabilities. Does the Pea Ridge School District plan to test all students for HIV and collect the results due to certain actions or behaviors that may place the students, teachers, and staff at risk or will the school just require testing the students the school believes might have the virus?”
The demand letter calls upon the Arkansas Department of Human Services, through their Chief Legal Counsel, Mr. Mark White, not to release the results of the test to the school. Action taken by the state to release the test results to Pea Ridge School District will result in a lawsuit filed against the state and school district for federal law violations.
According to the Pea Ridge School District’s website, the school district does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, or disability in any of its policies, practices, or procedures.
“DRC finds it ironic that the school has the policy in place, but does not appear to adhere to it” said Masseau.
DRC will continue to pursue all available remedies to ensure that these children are not kept from receiving the education they deserve due to ignorance, fear, and prejudice. ...