Boy Kicked Off School for Genetic Mutation
11-year-old Colman Chadam has been requested to go to another school, after school officials found out that he has a gene mutation for cystic fibrosis.
Officials have requested that Chadam be transferred from the Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto because he allegedly poses a risk to another student who carries the disease.
“Based on the advice of medical experts, this is the zero risk option, and most certainly helps our District deliver on its commitment to provide safe learning environments,” explained Charles Young, associate superintendent at Palo Alto Unified School District.
“The harsh reality of a busy middle school campus, where students ranging in ages from 12 to 15 share a cafeteria, restrooms, the gym and locker room, a library and other settings, is that it might be virtually impossible to maintain a specified separation and sanitation protocols at all times,” he also added.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic lung disease that, while life-threatening, is not contagious. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, over 10 million people carry the genetic mutation but do not necessarily have the disease.
While Colman poses no risk to the other children, his genetic mutation may make it potentially risky for him to interact with someone who has the disease. Unfortunately, the school already had a student with cystic fibrosis before Colman enrolled.
Colman’s parents are taking the matter to court, explaining that they had listed Colman’s genetic condition on the health form long when he first enrolled. Colman’s mom, Jennifer Chadam also disputes that his son poses no risk to anyone else in the school.
“They made this decision without seeing one medical record on my son,” Jennifer Chadam explained.
“Given this school’s strategy, they would need to reassign about 5 percent of their student body to another school,” Dr. John LiPuma, director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation added.
LiPuma also added that with proper hygiene, Colman will not be infected, even if he comes in close contact with another student with the disease.
“These people do not have CF and should not be treated differently based on having a single gene,” he said. “To do otherwise is simply acting contrary to facts, borne out of ignorance or malice.”
Colman is currently homeschooled, until the matter is resolved. School administrators have requested a transfer to the Terman Middle School.