Published June, 1988

Doe v. Dolton Elementary School District, 694 F. Supp. 440 (N.D. Ill. 1988)

A twelve-year-old, HIV-positive student who had been excluded from regular classroom activities as a result of his HIV infection sued his school alleging violations of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Finding that the Rehabilitation Act applied in this case, the court concluded that the school had violated the student's rights and that the student should be allowed to return to his regular classroom because he posed no risk of HIV infection to others in the school. The court came to this conclusion by first determining that the student was covered under the Rehabilitation Act as a person who clearly was "regarded as" having a disability; and then determining that the student was "otherwise qualified" to attend school, thus meeting the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act. The court applied the four-prong test set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in School Board of Nassau County v. Arline, 480 U.S. 273 (1987), to establish that the student was otherwise qualified because he posed no significant risk of HIV transmission to teachers or other students. To complete the analysis, the court found that the student would suffer irreparable harm by not being allowed to return to school, and that the "balance of hardships" weighed in favor of the student. Despite finding in favor of the student, the court did require that the student not engage in any contact sports sponsored by the school, and submit to regular medical exams to monitor his health status. The court also required that the student's identity and HIV status be disclosed to school faculty and staff.

For a copy of this opinion, please contact