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Teachers Vote To Keep AIDS Victim Out Of Classroom

August 16, 1985

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) _ A teachers group has voted to support a suburban school superintendent’s decision to bar a 13-year-old AIDS victim from returning to the classroom later this month.

About 50 members of the Western Education Association voted by a show of hands Thursday night to support Superintendent James O. Smith’s decision to keep Ryan White out of school.

Ryan and his mother, Jeanne White, have filed suit against the Western School Corp., seeking an injunction that would allow the seventh-grader to begin school Aug. 26.

Ryan, a hemophiliac, was diagnosed last Christmas as having acquired immune deficiency syndrome. His physicians say he is capable of attending school, but Smith said he fears Ryan’s condition could endanger the health of other students and faculty.

The Whites’ suit is scheduled to be heard in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis today.

The suit alleges the school system violated Ryan’s rights to equal protection and illegally discriminated against him as a handicapped person.

Teachers meeting Thursday night said they were concerned that the disease might be transmitted by saliva, but acknowledged that the evidence was inconclusive.

Teachers also said they were concerned about how other children would react to being in a classroom with Ryan.

″Parents have to be saying, ’Don’t get near the kid,‴ said teacher Bob Burkhalter.

″In addition to exposing others, we can’t keep Ryan from being exposed (to communicable diseases),″ added another teacher, Ty Calloway.

AIDS is most likely to strike homosexuals, abusers of injectable drugs and hemophiliacs. It can apparently be spread by sexual contact, contaminated needles and blood transfusions, but not by casual contact.

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