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Two California parents are fighting for the right for their son to attend middle school. The 11-year-old was kicked out because he carries the gene for cystic fibrosis. Note, he has the gene and not the actual life-threatening disease.
Last week, Coleman Chadam was told he would have to transfer to a school three miles away because he may pose a health risk to another student at the school who does have the disease.
Cystic fibrosis, an inherited disease, causes the body to create a thick mucous that clogs the lungs and can cause deadly infections. Though the condition is not contagious, people with it can endanger each other through bacterial cross contamination.
“In general, we would prefer that there not be more than one cystic fibrosis patient in a school,” Dr. Thomas Keens, the head of the cystic fibrosis center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, told the Today show.
But Coleman doesn't actually have the disease and his parents say the school is overreacting. Jennifer Chadam says her son has attended other schools with students with cystic fibrosis and it has never been a problem. In fact, Coleman has never had any medical problems related to the illness.
The school was only alerted that he carried the gene when his parents listed it on the medical form at the beginning of the school year. "The school district freaked out," Jennifer told the San Francisco Chronicle. In fact, doctors say he is not even at risk of developing the disease however, school officials are unmoved.
“I was sad but at the same time I was mad because I understood that I hadn’t done anything wrong,” Colman told Today. He added: “It feels like I’m being bullied in a way that is not right.”
He's right. The school is completely overreacting. As a parent, it seems as though -- in this particular instance -- the rule is doing more harm to this child than good. Coleman feels dejected and rejected. His parents are totally right to fight this. He is being denied the right to attend the school in his neighborhood, with his friends and in his community for what appears to be no good reason.
If he is not a risk to the other student and the other student is not a risk to him, shouldn't he be allowed to go to class?