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Palo Alto student stays home pending court ruling

Original post made on Oct 15, 2012

An 11-year-old Palo Alto boy is home from school pending an Oct. 25 court hearing on whether his genetic condition poses a risk to other students at Jordan Middle School who have cystic fibrosis.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, October 15, 2012, 9:56 AM

Comments (124)

Posted by Mom, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 15, 2012 at 10:32 am

Is this boy safe to Termen students?

Posted by Melaine, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 15, 2012 at 10:37 am

He is unless they have a different strain of CF in which they might be dangerous to each other. Please read the story. It makes it quite clear.

Posted by EcoMama, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2012 at 10:41 am

Am I the only person horrified that they named the child? What happened to protecting the kid's privacy? Jeez, bad call, PA Online.

Posted by Experienced Cyclist, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2012 at 10:56 am

Am I the only person who thinks this whole affair is completely ridiculous. As a parent signing one's child up for school, do I have to get a complete DNA sequence and reveal every potential abnormality discovered thereby? The child is not sick, but has a potential of developing CF. Give me a break. And are we really that litigious that if my child goes to school and gets the flu and it turns out to be a serious health problem, I'm going to turn around and sue the School Board. Give me a break.

Life is full of risk. You can go hide under your bed and try to avoid every theoretical risk or you can suck it up and deal with it.

We have become a nation of snivelling wimps.

Posted by Mohammed Ben Osama, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2012 at 10:57 am

The School is doing the best for everyone. My son is in Terman and I do not feel that the transfer of this kid with CF to Terman is a danger to my son or to any other Terman student or staff.

Posted by too many lawyers, a resident of Terman Middle School
on Oct 15, 2012 at 10:58 am

Sounds like the school district offered a very thoughtful and reasonable solution to this problem. Why did the family not accept it? This lawsuit is going to cost everyone a lot of money, not to mention causing psychological stress to the student. Of course, you cannot expect any amount of privacy once you launch lawsuits.

Posted by Experienced Cyclist, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

I must be missing something here: why is transferring the student to Terman a solution? Either you believe that his condition presents a health risk to other students or you don't. If you do, then why is it better to put the students at Terman at risk? If you don't, then why do anything at all?

Or is it that Terman does not currently have any students with diagnosed CF and Jordan does? In that case, you've just pushed the problem around. What happens when someone applies at Terman with CF? Are they rejected or does young Mr. Chaddam then get sent packing again? Or you force the new student with CF to attend Jordan as the declared "CF Safe Zone". And hope that no other studends at Jordan every get any contagious diseases that might put a CF patient at risk.

Posted by Eric, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:12 am

What the school district did sounds reasonable if you think like a bureaucrat and only look at it on paper. But this is a kid we're talking about. He is does not have CF and would not pose a risk to the other kids at Jordan with CF. He just moved to the district, started at a new school, made new friends and now he's being asked to start all over at a new school. That might sound like a good solution on paper, but think about if it were your own kid or your own family. Would you elect to move his older brother too? If you think moving the kid without CF is a good solution why not move the kids *with* CF to Terman? Why is one better or worse than the other? And why does anyone have to move, when there is no danger to the kids with CF!

Posted by Hope Center, a resident of Ohlone School
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:13 am

Like Solomon's attempt to split a baby in the Biblical history, the School District is in a tough predicament - and yet the family, particularly the son, is taking the brunt by being separated from a familiar school environment over uncertainties (that exist in every family).

We are praying for the Chadam family and School District officials - prayer works!

Posted by CF Observer, a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:13 am

This same story ran in the SF Chronicle yesterday and includes why the family is objecting to the transfer (note: the Chronicle story was poorly written/edited). I've heard a lot about CF but was not aware of the risk of cross infection.

Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:14 am

So, you can only have one kid with CF per school? I know Paly had a student with CF a few years back. Didn't seem to be a problem.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:28 am

If I am interpreting the story correctly, this young man has a genetic disorder that is related in some way to CF (perhaps increased possibility of developing it?) and there is a current student at Jordan who has CF. Because CF patients can "cross-infect" each other, the schools try to keep them separated. The district asked that this young man transfer to Terman (where I assume there are no students with CF) to reduce this risk of cross-infection. NEITHER CHILD POSES ANY RISK TO OTHER STUDENTS, only to each other. It sounds like the district consulted with medical professionals prior to making this decision; however, they may have done so with incomplete information. Ms. Colman says that the consultation was based on something she listed on the school application form, but that the district didn't ask for any medical records. It seems that the delay in action by the district (8 weeks into the semester) puts the child in the position of having to change schools mid-year -- pretty tough thing for a middle school student, so I don't blame them for waiting to see what the outcome will be. I applaud the district's desire to keep kids safe; perhaps greater consultation with the families and their treating physicians (vs. general medical consultation) would have been wise.

Posted by MS is not contagious, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:44 am

CF is a genetic condition. It is NOT contagious. Because of the thick mucous, lung damage, and required medications CF patients are prone to lung infections. They may have reduced immunity to certain infections which can be spread easily from "healthy" people who happen to be sick or between people with CF (or other people with reduced immunity (i.e. a person with an organ transplant, someone with HIV, someone receiving chemotherapy). People with healthy immune systems are not at risk if exposed to these respiratory bugs.

Hopefully the hearing will allow the district to come to the right decision and not just follow advice from "experts" that have no first hand knowledge of the student's medical condition.

Posted by parent, a resident of Terman Middle School
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:49 am

I hope the School Board, District Office, Terman PTA, Site Council and Staff are going to be willing to look into why this student would pose a risk to Jordan students and therefore would be better off posing a risk to Terman students instead. They will all need to answer to the Terman community morally and legally if a problem results.

Posted by CF Foundation Website, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Website
Web Link

"While the lung infections in people with cystic fibrosis pose no danger to the public, they do pose a significant danger to others with CF. If you are aware of having more than one student with CF in your school (unless they are siblings from the same household) it is essential that they be kept away from each other.

While this fact is not widely known—even among some families living with CF—it is of utmost importance. Two people with cystic fibrosis should not sit near each other in class or on a school bus, should never share water bottles at sporting events, and every effort should be made to keep them as far apart as possible at all times. The general guideline is that they should not come within 6 feet of each other.

The reason for the above precaution is that people with cystic fibrosis can pass particular bacteria to each other. While these specific germs are harmless to people without CF, they can have a significant negative impact on the health of a person with CF. One student with CF might have bacteria that the other does not, so every effort should be made to avoid cross infection. In essence, the goal is to help prevent the spread of germs between people with CF. If there are two students with CF in the same school or classroom, the CF Foundation (1-800-FIGHT CF or has guidelines based on research and reviewed by medical experts that can help minimize the spread of germs between people with CF.

In addition, because cystic fibrosis affects the lungs, a cold, flu or respiratory illness can cause a lot more trouble for a person with CF. We know you are aware of the basics of infection control—frequent hand-washing, covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing. While it may be inconvenient, teachers should consider moving a student with a cold away from a person with CF in order to help keep the student with CF as healthy as possible."

Posted by Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I agree with EcoMama. Identifying this child, a minor, by name instead of protecting his privacy is outrageous. The fact that people are debating this child's health status online is shocking! This was irresponsible journalism (yes you PA Online!) and does this child a serious disservice. He could be unfairly ostracized by other children who do not understand his medical condition and think he's "contagious". Why was this even made public to the news media? Students' health records by law are private.

Posted by frustrated, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Make sure you read and understand the story BEFORE writing a post like the one that precedes this one. The person "MS is not contagious" has it right, folks.

My point of curiosity is, "Are there more than one other student at Jordan w/CF? and why if their names are protected (as I think they should be), was Colman's not?" I guess once the lawsuit is filed it becomes public knowledge. But will also this other student's?

Posted by Truedy, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Remember that it was the parents who disclosed their child's condition with the district, probably to be on the safe side. If the parents don't think anything needs to be done due to their child's genetic condition, why disclose it in the first place? Now that the district has this knowledge, it would be foolish of them not to do what they did, to be on the safe side. It doesn't seem right to knowingly put the current CF student into any kind of danger, however miniscule.

Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm

> The dispute reflects conflicting judgments about the
> risk of "cross-infection" among students who have
> cystic fibrosis or are at genetic risk for the disease.


1) Did the State authorize the PAUSD to ask this sort of question?
2) Does the State have a policy as what to do when there is more than one of these CF-carriers in a given school?
3) Is the PAUSD following State procedure/Protocol?
4) Why is the student at home, rather than in school?
5) Is this the only kind of genetic problem that the PAUSD is now checking for, or are there others?

Posted by jill, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I think this article leaves out something important that both the SF Chronicle and Daily Post mentioned in their stories earlier -- that somebody at the district discussed Coleman's genetic markers with the parent of two boys at Jordan who have full-blown CF. That mother's concerns apparently led to the district moving Coleman. Seems to me that Coleman's medical privacy was violated by the district. If so, what does that mean for other parents who provide medical information about their children in confidence to PAUSD?

Posted by Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I will certainly not disclose my children's medical information to PAUSD now that I know their names will appear in the news as a result. So much for medical privacy laws.

Posted by defence, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Once a lawsuit is filed, it is public information. The PAUSD did not disclose the boy's genetic information. The lawsuit filed by the family did.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Why is the child that does not have CF being asked to move rather than the kids "at risk"?

Posted by CF Observer, a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:09 pm

To EcoMama and Parent...over the weekend the SF Chronicle ran this story along with a picture of the student...there's really no need to be outraged at the Palo Alto Weekly for naming the student.

Web Link

Posted by ScienceMom, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:11 pm

A very large number of people are genetic "carriers" of CF. Singling out this kid simply because the parents happened to have the information on hand is ludicrous. I guarantee that, statistically speaking, there are many other carriers at this school. Carriers are not the same as those who have full CF in terms of the microbiology of their lungs, and therefore do not pose a risk to CF patients. It is lovely that the school is concerned enough to look into it, but honestly a high school education should have allowed them to figure out the difference between a carrier and someone with CF disease. And to disrupt the child's education this way without cause is reprehensible. There is some concern to be had in placing non-sibling CF patients (full blown disease, not carriers) in close proximity with one another. That said, placing them in separate classrooms would go well beyond the recommended mitigating steps. Keeping this kid of school for 10 more days for a legal hearing is nuts. Call a doctor and this time LISTEN. The Packard doctor did not say a carrier should be separated. He said a CF patient should be separated from another CF patient. There is NO controversy here, medically speaking. THis child poses no risk.

Posted by CF Mom, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Most people familiar with CF know that cross-infection is a HUGE issue for CF patients. Doctors and nurses don disposable gowns even to take a blood pressure and then discard those gowns on the way out of the room. Many bacteria that infect CF lungs (but have no effect on people without CF) are resistant to antibiotics so an infection can easily result in a long hospital stay - in isolation! - as well as permanent lung damage. Many CF kids are on a 504 plan at school that specifies (among other things) they should not be around other people with CF.

It is easy for me to see why the parents of the kids with CF at Jordan would be uncomfortable with this but I do agree that the school district should consult the doctors involved to see if they feel that there is a risk of cross-infection.

Posted by Safety first, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Jill and all,

It sure seems that it was the child's parents that made his name and condition public. It couldn't be much clear. They posed for pictures for the Chronicle's article

Any claim the Colman's make now that they expected medical privacy have been blown when they decided to tell the Chronicle and Weekly aka the world about their son's medical condition, don't you think?

If a parent discloses a condition on a school form like the story says the Colmans did, they must not have made it up. They must have been concerned that their child might be at risk and they wanted to make sure the district knew about.

Once the district has news that a child's health might be in danger, it has to act. There is only one thing that they can do while they figure it out which, in this case, is to move a child. It has to be one of the two of them.

Was one of the two at Jordan longer? Does one live nearer to school than the other? Does one own a house and the other rent? Do both parents of one work making transportation across town a problem while the other parents are stay-at-home?

It's a hassle to be sure but there are no victims here. There is just a school district that is doing what we'd all hope it would do if this were our child - making sure all students in our schools are safe.

Posted by Jan H., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Since the poor kid does not actually have CF, he is not a danger to anyone, not even kids who have an active case of it. What being a genetic carrier means is that he may pass on the disease to his own children, genetically; not that he will ever develop it himself.

I am sure that the boy's well-meaning parents assumed that, being in an educated environment like PA, the powers that be would know this little tidbit about being a genetic carrier.

What the school district has done, and is attempting to do, is a demonstration of ignorance that really makes an institution of education look bad.

BTW, the SF Chronicle broke the story yesterday, and used the boy's full name. It is supposed to be illegal for the media to reveal the name of a minor, which I am sure they know. Perhaps the parents gave permission to use his name? Did the child have any say in it?

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:37 pm

CF sounds tricky - I'm actually sympathetic to all parties here - why did the parents know their son had the genetic marker - I guess some genetic tests were done? (he does not have CF nor show symptoms...)
- we all need to be cooperative with each other in society and school - there should be a FAIR resolution to this that does not favor one family over another. I don't know what is best, but I don't believe the new kid should have lower priority and attention.
Surely this cannot be the only case of conflict over which kid should have priority to attend a neighborhood school because of some medical issue (Jordan, in this case), but it would be best to handle it with informed people and dignity, rather than tossing someone out or the inevitable lawsuit.
What's coming to mind is the parental concern/conflicts at times over peanut allergies and school policies (for the general school population, not between two particular students). We have seen the full spectrum of behavior and school management over that one (following it in the news at various schools as well as attending a school long ago where there was one kid with severe peanut allergy). In the case where we were acquainted with the little kid, it was in a private school and everyone was pleasantly informed and requested to follow pretty strict protocol (lunch, handwashing, etc.) and while it was a hassle, everyone to my knowledge did cooperate as all were treated with respect and politeness. That would help.

Posted by CF Mom, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:43 pm

If he really is just a carrier, why are his parents closely monitoring his genetic situation? As CF is a recessive genetic condition, if someone just has a single CF gene, they do not have the disease and there is no need to monitor their condition. Most people who carry a single mutated gene have no idea they even do so. It sounds like this child has TWO mutated genes but is currently not presenting symptoms. This is a much trickier situation - CF affects the chloride channel of individual cells and it is unusual that you would have two mutated genes and no issues with abnormal lung mucus. What a medical doctor (not science-y people on the internet) needs to determine is whether the presence of both mutated genes has an impact on what kind of bacteria can live in this child's lungs.

Posted by FERPA, schmerpa, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:53 pm

1. It does not appear that Colman has CF, but that is a question of fact for the court to decide whether or not the district had sufficient evidence to transfer him to another school. If the district did not have sufficient evidence to require his transfer but did it based on his purported status as having CF, then this raises ADA issues. When one is discriminated against in public accommodations on the perceived risk, real or illusory, associated with having a disease, then the ADA is implicated.

2. Regardless and apart from the CF and ADA issues, the district had no legal right to release his medical information to other parents as reported in the Chronicle. If this happened, it likely violated medical and family privacy rights covered by FERPA, something that the district doubtless knows by now.

According to the Chronicle: "A few weeks into the school year at Jordan Middle School, school officials took note of Colman's medical history, information that eventually was shared with another Jordan parent whose two children have classic cystic fibrosis and are predisposed to chronic lung infections.

"The school district freaked out," Colman's mother said.

It was unclear Friday whether Colman's medical privacy rights were violated during the process."

So these are two separate issues. One is of alleged discrimination on the basis of perceived or purported disability and the other a claim of violating the child's privacy. Both are serious problems but the second is just as bad, if not worse, than the first.

Posted by Jan H., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Doctors said he passed the sweat test: would that not be an indication that the chloride channels of his cells are not affected? Then he would not have excess mucus in his lungs or digestive tract.

During high school, I babysat a little boy who had this disease and died at the age of seven. His father was the local doctor, so he made sure I was well-versed in the disease and its treatment at the time.

Also, isn't what Jordan and PAUSD did a violation of the HIPA laws, because those carry severe penalties.

Posted by Does HIPA apply?, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Do HIPA laws apply to school districts? They are not necessarily regulated by the same laws as medical providers and insurance companies.

Posted by FERPA, schmerpa, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:09 pm

HIPPA does not apply to school health information but FERPA does.

Posted by Patrick, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:12 pm

One point the Weekly missed (but was mentioned by the Daily Post) was that PAUSD asked the judge to seal the case. I'm sure the district will say it wants to protect the privacy of the two boys with CF at Jordan. But it also seems as if the district has made a series of blunders here, including disclosing Colman's genetic information to the mother of the two CF boys. Asking that the case be sealed might have more to do with damage control than protecting anyone's privacy.

Posted by Jan H., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Then I hope someone reports Jordan and/or PAUSD to FERPA, because what they did was reprehensible. I hope the parents have secured a lawyer.

Posted by JLS mom, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:14 pm

This is a straightforward case of genetic discrimination, combined with some amazingly bad decision making by district officials. This child doesn't have CF, he has a genetic predisposition to get it at some point in the future. Moving a child from one school to another based on generic advice from outside experts, rather than consultation with the child's own doctor and other experts looking at the details of the case, makes no sense. Disclosing another child's medical information to a parent is also improper and probably illegal. It really makes me wonder whether anyone at the district talked to either a doctor or a lawyer before blundering into this. The impact on this child is real and very negative.

Posted by FERPA, schmerpa, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:29 pm

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination protection applies to employees. Students are covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, which since 2008 prohibits discrimination on the basis of a "perceived disability." That means that if a person establishes that he or she was subjected to a prohibited action (such as exclusion from a school or program) because of an actual or perceived physical or mental impairment, without regard to whether the impairment actually limits a major life activity. This significant change means that even if an individual does not satisfy the standard of a current, actual disability (i.e., cystic fibrosis) might meet the criteria for a perceived disability if they are discrminated on the basis of the genetic marker because they are "perceived" as having C.F.

But we won't know whether the district has violated the ADA for some time. Maybe this is a reasonable decision based on all the facts -- the jury can decide that. Meanwhile, this child's private medical information has been spread to the 4 winds which seems pretty boneheaded.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:54 pm

From what I read, CF patients should not get closer than 6 feet apart. Jordan is a big school with plenty of space to keep students 6 feet apart, even during passing periods and lunch.

Posted by Jan H., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm

FERPA, Schmerpa, thank you for telling us all this. I am so glad some one here is so well-informed.

I remember when my son went to Jordan, and his doctor sent a note to his PE teacher there about not forcing him to do things that set off an attack, and about allowing him to take an extra puff from his inhaler before exercising. The teacher called him a wimp in front of everyone in the class, as well as cursing the doctor, who was an asthma specialist. We reported him, but nothing came of it, even after the doctor sent a letter about the ADA.

I feel a lot of sympathy for Colman's parents. My opinion of PAUSD keeps getting lower.

Posted by Former Parent, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2012 at 3:08 pm

The PA School District only guarantees your child an education in the PAUSD if you live in Palo Alto. There is absolutely no guarantee that your child will be placed in the school of your choice. From that stand point I hope this family will loose in Court.

However, the School District does divide Palo Alto up with school boundaries It is for their convenience to have children attend a school closest to their home so that they are not needlessly transported across town.

Posted by JLS mom, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Jan, Jordan has a well-known reputation for teachers bullying students, one of the reasons my daughter is in Connections. Sorry to hear about another case.

Posted by Stanford doc, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm

The school here made a mistake, definitely in its communications, and quite probably in its policy. It is interesting that not a single medical professional is quoted in this story. They don't say what information was provided to the purported experts that they consulted, nor do they say what those experts told them. The fact is, they couldn't have consulted properly w/o the student's medical records, which the school did not have. I am a pediatrician and at Stanford, and this sounds bogus. He had a negative sweat test, so he doesn't have CF, and it is therefore exceedingly unlikely that he carries the bugs they are concerned about. If that is a concern, let them do a sputum culture and see if they are there. If so, then there is a rational basis for the policy. If not, stop being ridiculous. This is definitely a situation in which a little information in the wrong hands is dangerous thing.

Posted by Friend of a CFer, a resident of Ohlone School
on Oct 15, 2012 at 3:33 pm

First and foremost, I am so sorry that this young man's name had to be published and for whatever angst his family has had to suffer as a result of this unfortunate situation. I was not aware about CF patients not being able to be within close proximity of another CFer. I give money to one of the organizations that supports research on CF and I remember their articles about CF summer camps where many CF kids congregate together. My friend with CF never wanted to go to any of these camps and, in point of fact, did not really care to be identified with being a CFer. She wanted to live as normal a life as possible and even after her disease progressed to the level of needing a double lung transplant she accomplished everything a child not affected by this disease would do. She carried the Olympic torch at her college, got married, had a child (with the help of her sister who was the surrogate). She would stay with me in Palo Alto while on the transplant list (had to drive up here monthly for procedures and tests to stay on the "list" for a lung transplant). Because of my intimate friendship with a CFer I have so much empathy for people living with this serious disease. I know that nobody would want to make a CFer's life more challenging but for the life of me I find it hard to understand why the Jordan campus could not not have this young man co-existing with two children with CF. I guess more will be revealed when the legal proceedings start. I certainly hope that PAUSD properly researched the situation before they made the decision to move this young man. Again I want to apologize to the family for any additional suffering this young man will have to endure as a result of making this a news item. The publisher here could have had an equally newsworthy piece without publishing the student's name.

Posted by Dumbfest, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Only in Palo Alto, do we have more expert opinions on any subject than people!

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Parents should never have disclosed the condition. Point given.

Posted by another parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm

As a parent of a child who gets asthma from mold and other common allergens when they are in abundance and who is more susceptible to congestion and lung infections when around such indoor air pollutants -- I am scratching my head over the district's behavior in this instance. None of our schools has an indoor air quality plan, and the middle schools in particular all have some issues that I would think would pose just as much of a health hazard to kids with susceptible lungs, like old musty (moldy) carpeting, etc.

It's interesting that the district would avoid acting on developing a reasonable indoor air quality plan when a way to do this was handed to them on a platter, but they would spend money to go to court with this family over this issue as if they are acting out of caution -- when the child in question doesn't even have CF.

It comes across almost like harassment of this child who doesn't even have CF. It makes me think they needed to move some students out of Jordan because of overcrowding and thought he was low-hanging fruit, then the person who made the bad decision tried to justify it when the family balked. I'm just guessing, but given my long experience with the district, that strikes me as a more likely scenario than that they were acting out of concern for the students or an abundance of caution. Those just don't ring true.

Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Jan H.
The Weekly is looking to speak with families of kids with allergies and asthma in our schools. Please contact Chris Kenrick

You can speak on or off the record.

Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2012 at 4:47 pm

To everyone who is complaining about the district's fast action,
Isn't it quite justified? Staying at home is definitely necessary given that
"You can put protocols in place and try to follow them as best you can. Absolutely that's an option, but the reality of a middle-school campus, where kids are between 12 and 14, is we have a cafeteria, restrooms, locker rooms, a library, play equipment. It's difficult or almost impossible to maintain a specified separation and sanitation protocols at all times."
Personally, I think a condition that COULD impact a life is a bit more important than, say, a few weeks of school? Especially when that child can just make them up later? During the time in which the court case runs I think it's quite reasonable to put him on a time of leave....

Beyond that, "Jordan has a well-known reputation for teachers bullying students." I went to Jordan and experienced relatively little of that. I too have asthma, and it's true that several PE teachers do encourage running to the point of where it could possibly be considered pressure, they will not force you to run if you refuse. Besides, if you refuse you can excuse yourself in the office later if the PE teacher is entirely disagreeable....

Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Dear C,
The kid in question DOES NOT HAVE CF!

The kid is new in school, and he's not able to stay in school with the new friends he made.

Our district had no evidence that he was dangerous to anyone.

I'm sorry, but knowing this district, I smell a rat, and someone is doing the usual poor, expensive job of trying to hide it.

Posted by es, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Yes, we need to be cautious, but we also need to apply reasoned and informed opinion. I feel ashamed to be a resident of Palo Alto, so supportive of liberal social justice and opportunity for all as a concept, but unwilling to put it into practice. As for risk averse bureaucrats only interested in perpetuating their myth of administering schools in a Lake Wobegon world, I have the greatest scorn. We need to stand up for this child's and his parents rights.

Posted by Gunn mom, a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 15, 2012 at 6:39 pm

According to Web Link, "One in 25 persons of European ancestry is a carrier having one normal and one abnormal cystic fibrosis gene."

If 4% of the students at Jordan are carriers, many others will have to be transferred as well to be fair.

Posted by C, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I understand that he may not (and quite likely does not) have CF, if he had CF it would be obvious that he (or the other boy) must transfer schools. "Insisting that their son does not have cystic fibrosis, just a genetic condition that's being monitored" "never has had a clinical diagnosis of cystic fibrosis" leaves room for error. I'm not saying he has CF, but that it does merit further exploration. I neither have the medical records nor am I a doctor so I am obviously not qualified to make a distinction, however, not knowing whether he has mucus in his lungs or whether his mother and father both carry a CF gene, leaves a grey area that I believe to be great enough to pull the child from school for a week or two while they investigate (if it goes on for longer than 2 weeks, I agree that it's ridiculous). I'm not telling the child to transfer, I'm thinking of it as a case of pinkeye -- if you're not sure if your child has pinkeye or not, don't send them to school for a day or two. I may just be missing information on his case of CF....

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm

There are many,many underemployed/unemployed lawyers in Palo Alto who are desperate for money

The fact is that Law Schools have graduated many, many more law graduates than we need.

Sad but true

-these unemployed lawyers should be suing the law schools for conning them into massive personal debt which they have no real chance of paying off.

Bad career choice-Darwin rules-again

Posted by George, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 15, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Jan, is that the same son that was beaten bloody at school (as per your comments in another thread)? He had it rough in school.

Posted by Parent with a special needs child, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm

FIRST OF ALL......PLEASE PROTECT CHILD IDENTITY. I HOPE MOTHER HAS THE BEST LEGAL ADVISE. FORGET MONEY....IT IS THE principal of transferring this child to terman. I am thrilled with mother's decision. School messed up!!

School will always do what is best for them. As educated parents of this wonderful community, let's support this mom and her son. He should not be pushed from one school to another. This is what they do each year to children with special needs. They uproot them and make them readjust to new environments.

Posted by Oops, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm

@Jan H.
Freudan slip! The Weekly is looking to speak with parents of children who have asthma or allergies in school. Please contact (correct address thus time) Chris Kenrick at

Do NOT send to the school district address, it's not correct. Sorry about that!

Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 16, 2012 at 1:27 am

Wow, there was a ton of ADD reading here as evidenced by the postings. Nothing worse than reading an article, then reading ignorant questions/comments which were already answered in he article. Slow down, people.

As for teachers who are bullies at Jordan, don't believe it. I have two children who have completed Jordan recently and there was only one teacher, a female PE teacher, who is a bully. She makes them run every day (during swimming unit, they swim, then run, so their sneakers end up moldy). She favors the popular students. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Ed Advocate , a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 16, 2012 at 6:42 am

Brown Vs. Board of Education said that "separate but equal" is not constitutional. A public school is supposed to make reasonable accommodations for every child that lives in their area.

In the south, people threw eggs at those who tried to attend their neighborhood schools. Sounds like in N. CA., they use tutors to segregate & exclude. How classy and quiet.

They COULD go with the option of following protocols, but have elected instead to move the child across town. Sounds like the rights of this child are 2nd to convenience and budget (or fear).

Also, the new kid is not sick. He's just being segregated at the request of someone else who has not read his medical records (unless they were leaked by some insider).

Posted by Mom, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 16, 2012 at 6:47 am

@Mom,a member of the Palo Alto High School community

Please do not insult other commenters.
Since the first release of this subject on PA online, the writer of this article has been changing her expressions. And commenters are not allowed to edit their comments or withdraw them.

And don't insult ADD people by using as simile, either.

Posted by Confused, a resident of another community
on Oct 16, 2012 at 6:57 am

Either the child has cf or he does not. There is no possible way that he may develope it. Period. If you carry the cf gene you do not have cf nor do you have the cf bacteria that could pose a risk to other cf people. If the parents of the child with cf that is already at the school want the two children separated then they should move their own child. These kids go through enough just having this disease. Don't make them feel even worse by making them feel unwanted! Unbelievable

Posted by CF Mom, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 16, 2012 at 7:30 am

"We have tutors available and will be able to provide classwork just as we do for any student who's not able to attend school for a period of time."

...Is he unable to attend school, or being denied entry to the school where he has made friends, has a brother attending and has been working on his studies?

What about the other kids who no longer have their buddy in class? What message are you sending them? Lie on governmental forms or else you could be next?

Big difference

Posted by Observer, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2012 at 10:03 am

In the event that a child has a disability, the district is supposed to make reasonable accommodations so the child can attend school in the least restrictive way. It seems to me the district may think it only needs to protect the rights of the siblings with CF (who, by the way, aren't being separated either, so their social emotional needs and convenience are being considered above even the fact that they may separately contract something then share it).

The district may not realize that the law provdes equal protection for the child who has this genetic condition as a disability, if the perception of it causes others to act in a way that restricts his rights.

The district is making an argument that no one has a right to go to their neighborhood school, but it is not district policy to start a child at their neighborhood school then move them away, they violated their own policy to move the non-CF child to the other school, discriminating unnecessarily against his social emotional needs because of a misperception about his disability.

It sounds very par for the course with this district that they would fail to properly work with and communicate with these families, but would rely completely on their own hubris, perceived needs, illogical beliefs, and expensive outside experts whose infomation has been subject only to the district's biases. Then instead of working with the families, they act like a big, blustering corporation and keep things as expensive as possible and hurtful to the "opposition" as possible by going to court. Seems to me like we may need some less self-interested legal counsel.

Posted by Jan H., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Several years ago, a friend whose daughter had cancer developed secondary leukemia from the chemo. She then needed a bone marrow transplant, which meant five months in isolation at Packard.

My friend tried to get Paly to send her assignments by email, so that her daughter could keep up with her classes.

To make a long story short, Paly and PAUSD refused to cooperate, and then held the girl back a year in school!

So she spent five years in high school, and when preparing her applications for colleges, she related her experiences with having cancer at her age, including the PAUSD experience with not letting her "telecommute".

The day after her death, the acceptances started coming in. She had been accepted to all six of the schools she applied to

Posted by ed Advocate , a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Jan H,
I am so sorry for you loss.

Posted by Packard, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm

@Jan H.: The story sounds fishy to me, since PAUSD runs three schools at Packard for just such cases, one each for K-4, 5-8, 9-12. That child would have been enrolled in the appropriate school and received proper help.Web Link

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm

If I am to believe some of the posts, the school discussed this young man's medical condition with two parents of children with CF who attend Jordan. If this is true, it is a very direct violation of privacy, regardless of his name becoming public via the lawsuit.

Posted by Looking forward, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm

There is one question that no one is asking and that needs to be asked. What happens when these children reach high school? We only have two high schools here in Palo Alto.

Posted by This is wrong!, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 16, 2012 at 10:35 pm

What a way to protect our kids PAUSD. If in fact the student is a danger to other students. Why would they sent him to another school? Are the students at the new school stronger than the ones at Jordan? It does not make sense. I am not surprise that PAUSD is discriminating. I am glad the parents did what they supposed to do go to court. Cases of discrimination occur but many parents do not report it to protect their children. Good Luck, I hope PAUSD reconsiders their recommendation and keeps the student at Jordan where he belongs. It is wrong to sent him to other schools. Think about the emotional damage to this kid by sending him to another school because of this reason. This is wrong.

Posted by PA mom, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Oct 17, 2012 at 12:04 am

Oh my goodness! There are a lot of residents who must have had abysmal critical reading scores! Maybe they are the products of the pausd process of studying only for the mark as opposed to valuing comprehension and education.

Posted by Amanda K., a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2012 at 7:10 am

As a mother with a toddler son who is a carrier of CF, my heart goes out to this family, and as a mother who has had children transfer due to moving my heart goes out. I guess I'm just not understanding why this boy has been asked to transfer to another school system. As a carrier he is not in any danger to anyone or himself. From what the doctors told me, with my son, the only issue he might have is when he has children of his own and his wife has the CF gene also they'll pass it on to the child and he/she will have CF. Why is this even an issue at this school system?

Posted by Learned the hard way also, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 7:19 am

i learned the hard way also to not tell everything to the school officials.

Moral of the story: Tell only what is obvious or necessary for your child's schooling. That's it. They go crazy over medical issues they know nothing about, seeing risk where there is none. It isn't that they shouldn't pay attention, it is that they think they know stuff that isn't true, and act on it in the face of all actual trained medical opinion to the contrary.

In other words, a reasonable inquiry to the parents to bring in a medical specialist diagnosis and opinion of risk to self and others if fine, but to decide THEMSELVES is abhorrent to me.

Posted by Pearl Forbes, a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 17, 2012 at 8:03 am

I am apalled that this child, who is a carrier of Cystic Fibrosis, has been singled out. If his being a carrier of CF is a problem, what about the carriers of other diesases. If all carriers were denied schooling, there wouldn't be anyone in class.
My child who had Cystic Fibrosis (CF), who has died, lived in El Segundo in the 70s and I refused to keep him home.I paid taxes for that school & he knew how to take care of himself. Why are adults treating a carrier like this? I am surprised at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation...

Posted by Dori, a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2012 at 8:45 am

This boy is not a carrier, he isn't contagious, he can't give C.F. to another child. He simply has the genetic marker, and most likely will never even develop the disease. Many, many people out there carry genetic markers for diseases they may never develop. Shall we segregate them, too?

This is a gross over-reaction, an example of ignorance, and just plain wrong.

Posted by susan, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 9:09 am

Today Show just covered this story and both Star Jones, attorney, and Dr. Nancy Sneiderman said school district is WRONG.

Posted by Fred Reese, a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2012 at 10:06 am

Needless to say I am shocked and apalled by this story.
My son Robert went to Petaluma High school with no problems, he had full blown Cystic Fibrosis . He wrestled on the Petaluma team and guess what not one person complained . The coaches and team knew about Cystic Fibrosis due to the fact they educated themselves about it.Yes he had malabsorption problems and the respiratory problems that come with CF .
Robert was diagnosed at the age of 3 cf took his life in 2010 at the age of 35 . In the 35 years of his life he never was denied anything in school or in life. I know this is sounding like I am making this about me , I'm not I'm trying to help shed a light on living with Cf.This school needs to educate themselves about CF and other childhood health issues before the knee jerk reactions they are not protecting anyone they are scaring a child for life . Then there's the issue of privacy how can a school give medical information out about anyone . I wounder how they would feel if medical information about them was given to the public. Maybe we should start looking into the staff's health issues to see if they are fit to be exposed to the students . I guess the next thing is going to be the color of the students hair or if they have an extra appendage that's all genetic. I'm sickened by all of this.It's just another way to discriminate !

Posted by Ada, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2012 at 10:53 am

What a litigious society we are! The school acted in good faith on the advise of doctors. Why take the school to court?

Posted by A Noun Ea Mus, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 17, 2012 at 11:03 am

For the sake of discussion, let's assume there are two students in the same school who both have CF.

It's my understanding that CF patients/students tend to have their airways colonized with Pseudomonas. For people with normal immune systems and airway protection this shouldn't pose any risk.

But then what about the hypothetical CF students at the same school? Unless they are French kissing or involved in some sport where they both make semi-intimate contact (wrestling with a pinning putting their breathing close together) it doesn't seem logical to me that there is any increased danger. But for someone with no pulmonary disease there shouldn't be any problem with kissing, close contact, etc.

Isn't the real danger more the routine colds and flu's which run through schools?

It is my understanding that if one is a carrier of the CF gene the only thing that means is 1) you may have increased resistance to TB--it's thought to be a spin-off from us developing resistance to TB, like how carriers of sickle cell anemia are more protected from malaria and 2) if a carrier has children with another carrier then their offspring may get full blown CF.

The path to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. But sometimes we even focus on the wrong things to be worried about.

What's weird to me is how the school district even found out about someone being a carrier?! Is this a case of genetic testing run amuck and Scientific TMI meshing with ingrained fear reactions?

Posted by Jan H., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm

George: yes, this is the same son who was beaten bloody. He later grew to GE bigger and stronger than his tormenter, who became afraid of him. Recently, the tormenter converted to Christianity and asked my son''s forgiveness.

Packard: In 2001, PAUSD did not have this..

parent: thank you so much for this information.

Posted by George, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Packard--I agree Jan's post does sound fishy, as does her story above (her son being beaten bloody--the school district an dpolce doing nothing--and then the "abuser" becoming born again and apologizing).
Jan seems to have a whole litany of these kind of stories

Posted by jb, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I am astonished that this student was excluded without even a reading of his medical records or a talk with his doctor. I'm appalled that hearsay about a genetic configuration is enough to exclude him. (Keep your gene sequences to yourselves, guys.)

Education is training the mind to consider issues carefully . What happened to this child happened regularly to "witches" in the 17th and 18th centuries. There is nothing of educated, careful consideration in the way the SCHOOL (education) district behaved in this matter.

Way to pattern disciplined thought processes, school district.

Posted by susie, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm

The district is doing what is medically recommended.

Transfering schools quietly with NO FUSS would not have traumatized this kid at all.

Being the center of a NATION WIDE MEDIA STORM, revealing his condition to the world and every child in the new school would

These parents have a skewed sense of what is right for their son.

Posted by susie, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:05 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Marisol, a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Poor kid, poor parents. What a heartbreak. I just hope they'll all be okay.

Posted by wondering, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm

An insightful post on this from elsewhere:

"I think someone has their info wrong. Sounds like he has CF but is asymptomatic, which some people are. Perhaps his parents and even doctor do not consider him to have CF because he is completely asymptomatic, but I suspect that he is more than just a carrier to have caused this issue with the school in the first place."

Sure seems that the parents wouldn't have listed it on a school form unless they wanted someone to know, perhaps because they think there is a chance that their son might become symptomatic.

When did the parents last test him? Was the test reliable? Should they get an updated test just to be sure?

It is their absolute right not to get their son tested, but it is the school's right to transfer a student if health and safety issues - his or the other child's - are a concern.

But there has been no transfer here, just a separation until more information can be gathered.

My question: why did the family run to the newspapers instead of to a doctor to get an updated sweat test just to be sure? That's what most parents in this difficult situation would have done. If he's still negative then both kids stay put, every one sleeps better, and lawyers make a little less money.

Posted by Jan H., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 17, 2012 at 5:46 pm

George, the born-again and apology part happened 18 years later, after the tormenter got out of prison, where he "found Jesus".

Posted by george, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Yes, Jan,.I believe that story also.a story for every situation.

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Aside from CF - May I suggest to Project Safety Net breakfast organizers to send pancakes along printed info to any school/district admin who does not consider abrupt transfer to another school a potential to emotional concern.

Seems to me that some believe discrimination exist, and some do not. My guess would be that those who do believe, did encounter that. I happen to believe.
Knowing nothing about this specific case, I'm very glad that personal details are not shared anymore, The last name I recall when published, makes me think the family has grounds to feel discrimination. It may have been a straw. And again - I do not know.
In any case, it takes allot of guts to legally peruse discrimination. The district knows that. Most families would not - funds, privacy, stress etc.
Seems to me that we may know only by the end of he day. I recall Ruby Bridges sharing in an interview some years ago that she would have never done to her own kids what her parents did. She was not judging her parents, who probably have faced several straws, prior.

Posted by SuperGreen, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 18, 2012 at 7:15 am

This poor child is a risk ONLY to others with CF. He is at risk FROM others with CF as well and kids who aren't immunized or who are sick. People without the DISEASE are not at risk. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by susan, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2012 at 8:54 am

Again Palo Alto makes the national news for the wrong reason. Too much intelligence here or just stupidity??????????

Posted by Robin, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 18, 2012 at 9:35 am

So glad there is discussion about this. I have a 31 year old daughter with CF who grew up in the Palo Alto schools. At one time there were about 6 known CF kids in the schools at the same time. We all understood the need for care and good hygiene. The kids were all responsible and took good care of their disease. It is a misnomer to say that one has a marker and then gets CF. Either you have it or not. Some kids do not develop symptoms or problems until much later in life and some are very ill from the beginning. There is a wide range of this disease. Contact or friendship with each other is not their greatest danger as seems to be coming across in all of these comments. The danger is infection caused by viruses and bacteria. A CF child with active lung infections who cough can be infectious to another with CF as they are susceptible to those bugs but it is rare and not common. The greatest concern is the normal environment that includes healthy kids with bad viruses who do not understand good hygiene as well as the bugs that live around us. All CFers learn to take care of themselves. This is a tragic situation that should never have happened. The CF community is terrified of each other and it is not helped by all of this misinformation and over over concern. As one who has lived with a child with this disease and been active for 30 years in the CF community and one who successfully raised my daughter with CF in the Palo Alto schools I think this is all outrageous and I reach out to Coleman's mom. Wish I could hug you.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2012 at 12:35 pm

fyi The Daily Post has an article today (Thursday) on pages 8-9, "Kid forced from school over genes speaks out." I recommend this article, if you happen to be in a position to pick up today's issue of the Daily Post. I was sufficiently stunned by the article (sympathy for the kid and amazed this is on national tv news now) that it reminded me to check back to this forum where I had posted earlier. I think school officials must deal with this issue with correct information, respect for privacy, and FAIRNESS.

Posted by CJ, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I feel badly for all the families involved. I don't think we should jump to the conclusion that the newspaper leaked the kids name -- he and his parents appeared on national tv yesterday and appear to want to try this in the court of public opinion.

As to why this kid should transfer rather than the kid with CF already at Jordan, I believe there are two kids who are siblings at Jordan so two would have to move. Let's let the medical professionals decide whether or not it is necessary to protect these kids. And please remember that all the other kids at Jordan or Terman who don't have CF are at no risk -- please show compassion for all these families.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Palo Alto shoots first and then aims. They are making assumptions re: this childs condition and choose to banish him before they know all the facts. I thought Palo Alto was better than that!!!

Posted by CF Mom, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I am not believing some of these comments.....but then again maybe it will encourage people to get educated on Cystic Fibrosis. First of all there was no reason for the parents to disclose that their son carries the CF gene. He is of no danger to anyone unless planning to have sex with a female that has cf gene because of chance of offspring having CF. To those of you that think he " might get cf" because he carries the gene....this is not have CF or you dont. And bottom line there may be other students that actually do have CF but have never been tested and have not been diagnosed. This is the reason I taught my daughter (who does have CF) to protect herself from others is the responsibility of the CF cannot put your CF child in a bubble and force everyone else to stay away because of fear.....shame on the person who disclosed the information and shame on the CF parent if they had anything to do with this. Universal Precautions people...not just for the CF patient....but alot of other diseases as well.

Posted by CF Mom, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm

And to the "doctor" that posted.....why in the world would you ask that child for a sputum culture??? Sad....someone else that knows nothing or little about CF. After reading these comments the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation should be ashamed....even after all these years people are still so misinformed and uneducated when it comes to CF.

Posted by Robin CF Mom, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 18, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Thank you CF Mom, this is a result of the CF Foundation's inability to deal with the cross infection issue in a reasonable way for all patients and families. As you know, the real danger to our CF kids could be a healthy kid carrying a bad virus with no idea of common hygiene..... hope this is used as a way that the larger population can come to understand CF and other diseases and how everyday people can help to protect them with getting a flu shot, other immunizations, staying home when sick, and washing hands........Hope this gets turned around.....I also hope that our docs get involved and help to inform everyone including CF families about the true risks to them and how to live a responsible life in society in connection with this important community.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Thanks for the info and detailed perspective, CF Mom and Robin CF Mom - we can all learn a great deal from informed people like you two.
I am concerned about fair treatment of all parties involved over at Jordan and the rest of our public schools.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Oct 18, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Robin and other CF Mom,
Thank you for chiming in with your thoughtful responses. Please don't read these posts and think this is a good gauge of what PA knows or believes about CF. I agree that more education needed, but it is obvious that both of you are doing that every day. I admire your courage and your strength.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 18, 2012 at 8:40 pm

It just occurred to me that the school district will likely settle with the people who filed the lawsuit, to keep things from dragging on, details will therefore be kept quiet,so we taxpayers are out more money and who knows how much. I agree the family should be compensated, I just wish the officials who acted incorrectly would be held responsible, instead of us (taxpayers...)

Posted by Mom, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 19, 2012 at 7:33 am

@anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood

I thought of that, too.
They do things so carelessly because they don't have to pay out of their own money. It is like "Oops, let me pay with my tax payer's credit card!".

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2012 at 7:55 am

Anonymous - you may be right. unfortunately. Tax payers will pick also the district's lawyers bill. I wonder if there is a way to look at those bills. I think that looking back at $ paid to lawyers by the district may provide the best insight as to all officials/teachers mistakes, whim. My guess would be that the higher the official is paid (tax $), the higher the lawyer bill to correct. We will never know about those, I think. Lawyers bills would reflect only those who dared to try to address the legal system. My guess it may be only the tip of the iceberg, especially when it comes to discrimination.
This district happens to be very litigious - it is very easy for some parents to manipulate the system, or have their kids not take responsibility, as others (whos parents can not afford lawyers) are expected. I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about the loosing side of discrimination.

Posted by Packard, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2012 at 8:18 am

@Jan H.: According to their website: The Lucile Packard Children's Hospital (LPCH) School Program, a unique collaboration between the Palo Alto Unified School District and LPCH, has been in existence since 1924. So they did have the program in 2001, Jan.

Posted by enough, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2012 at 10:29 am

anonymous, mom,

Can we all keep in mind that the PAUSD people involved were not doing this out of any ill intent, and were likely trying to act according to the information they had.

I understand the family taking this public, but I would think there is a limit to the fighting over mistakes, misunderstandings, and missteps on anyone's part. How often does this kind of thing come across?

Whatever is settlement, I hope some consideration will be given that generally speaking Jordan Middle School is a caring and thoughtful place to be, and not this horrible place that the media is implying.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm

While the family took this public, as you say, it was first that school officials shared the boy's medical info with the mommy of the siblings at Jordan and a hubbub erupted and they told the boy to leave Jordan.
I agree Jordan may be quite different now - there is such a turnover of administrators and to some extent, teachers, in the public school system that some schools have quite different atmospheres from 5 years ago, for example.

Posted by CFRI, a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Student with cystic fibrosis gene is asked to change schools.
Recent news of a student with a CF mutation coming into middle school points to the critical need for the community to learn more about cystic fibrosis (CF). We do not have enough information to comment on this particular situation. However, this is an opportunity for us to share a good understanding of CF and what it is. Being informed about cystic fibrosis is key to the healthiest quality of life for those with the disease – and for the community that supports them. Cystic Fibrosis Research, Inc. (CFRI) is a national nonprofit located within the Bay Area, dedicated to CF awareness and education, as well as research.
Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease. If both parents are the carriers of a single defective gene, there is a 1-in-4 chance that their child will have CF. A child who inherits only 1 CF gene will be a carrier, like the parents. A carrier does not have cystic fibrosis. About 1-in-29 people reading this article may be an asymptomatic carrier of CF.
Cystic fibrosis is not contagious. One is born with it and cannot "give it to" another person. People with CF produce thick mucus that damages organs such as the lungs, intestines, sinuses and pancreas. This abnormal mucus does not clear bacteria; it holds onto it and allows it to flourish. A person with CF can get very sick: the lungs may fail and the digestive system can become totally blocked – conditions that are fatal.
One person with CF may have "bad bacteria" that might cause a serious health problem for another with CF, but not for a healthy person. This "cross-infection" problem between people with CF is a major health concern, and there are protocols to reduce the possibility of this risk.
To learn more about cross-infection, cystic fibrosis, newborn screening, CF mutations and other CF issues, contact Cystic Fibrosis Research,Inc.: or 650.404.9975.

Posted by Friend of a CFer, a resident of Ohlone School
on Oct 19, 2012 at 3:37 pm

@CFRI: Thank you for weighing in with the facts about CF. I am amazed at how much misinformation is out there. I have donated to CFRI many times led to them because of my special connection with a CF patient. If anyone has a special interest in knowing more I suggest they contact this very good organization. I believe that a family in the PAUSD was instrumental in getting this organization going as they had a CF child in the district. I am so grateful to them for starting this organization.

Posted by Neighborhood mom, a resident of Gunn High School
on Oct 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Absolutely ridiculous, both the response by the school and the violation of the child's privacy. They got a little bit of info from medical experts and then made an idiotic policy decision.

Posted by SuperGreen, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Editor? comment above about kid's family?

As was mentioned prior - The first to disclose personal info about the kid were district employees, sharing with another - mommy. so it seems.

Posted by Not Contagious, a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2012 at 7:12 pm

As someone who is married to a person with CF, and who has a daughter that is a carrier, let me point out a few things here:

1. The boy does NOT HAVE cystic fibrosis. 1 in 30 people in the U.S. carry a recessive gene for CF. Let me repeat that: 1 in 30. He happens to be one of them. Lots of people have a recessive CF gene, far fewer have the disease.

2. CF is NOT contagious because it is a genetic disease. IF he had CF (which he does not!), the ONLY people at any risk in the school would be other kids with CF who might, just might, have different types of lung infections and could possible catch a new strain from another kid with CF.

3. The reason that a person with CF is at increased risk from being around other people with CF is because there are particular types of lung infections that people with CF are susceptible to (despite very strong antibiotics) and they might share these with one another.

Note: I just read the post by CFRI after writing this. I'm glad that I'm basically saying the same thing they did!

Posted by newbie, a resident of Ohlone School
on Oct 19, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Does the child have CF or not? If the child does not have CF, why did the family tell the district he did? If he doesn't have the disease, how did the family even know he had the gene? And even if they did know, why share that info with anybody, for if he really is just a carrier, neither he nor anybody else is at risk. Clearly the family disclosed the CF info because they thought it was important. Makes no sense. Something is off.

The school district is doing the right thing: following the recommendations of medical professionals.

Posted by Eric Marten, a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2012 at 11:08 pm

@CFRI, thank you for clarifying the medical facts about CF!

Posted by GreenSuper, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 20, 2012 at 5:52 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Local Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm

[I made a post far above, not as a registered user, so I no longer remember the anonymous handle -- please don't delete my post just because I posted as another name, it's just too hard to find!)

From my experience, the district might well have avoided the hubbub if it had a culture of working with parents. It really doesn't. I can understand why the family felt their only recourse was legal and through media advocacy. And it's too bad, because I don't think there are any villains here.

I do think the district has "old school" legal advice, that tends to inflame things rather than solve them. (For example, research and many hospitals found that sincerely apologizing when a mistake is made and making a real attempt to fix things usually means they end up with far less liability. "Old school" lawyers would tell them not to apologize, which studies show makes things worse. Yet still, that's the way most lawyers still advise.)

Am I missing something -- it sounded to me like the court case was about injunctive relief. If the family prevails, they *might* get their legal costs covered. I don't think there is anything else at issue here, but there's no way to tell from the article.

I am personally worried about other unhealthy indoor air quality conditions at our middle schools that could be at least as dangerous to kids with CF -- and could cause cough, phlegm and increase susceptibility to bacterial infection -- such as mold in old carpets on slabs. To its credit, the district is taking steps to review and improve indoor air quality starting with middle school -- which just might help all of these kids and make it easier to accommodate everyone's needs.

I don't know what the answer is in this situation, and it seems there is a lot of misinformation above (and people who didn't read the article). but I hope the district will learn something about how to better work with parents from this, because that is ultimately the best way to get a good, and less expensive, outcome.

Posted by homegrown, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Thankful and very grateful, right at this moment for the option of homeschool.

Posted by Participant, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2012 at 10:23 am

I have to agree that the district over reacted. Because he poses no current risk, this is a problem that needed careful consideration before any action was taken. Their decision to disrupt a child because of a genetic predisposition is clearly wrong. I once made the mistake of letting the school know of a very minor and insignificant health issue my child has, and they bombarded me with paperwork for years. I ignored it. This should be a lesson to parents - don't tell the district about things that do not pose a risk to your child or any others. In their zeal to avoid a lawsuit, they run amok. They also insist on taking away the child's medication and administering it themselves. My child has asthma. The school demanded that we turn his inhaler over to the office, where he would have to go and ask to use it if he had trouble breathing. If you ever had an asthma attack, you know that by the time you got a pass from your teacher, found someone in the office who is authorized to let you use your medication and is not on a coffee break, and convinced them to let you use it, and then waited while they searched for the thing and read the instructions, the attack would have become much worse. I wasn't going to let them do that to my child. And here's another example of administrators trying to avoid a lawsuit, and causing one. BTW, I really don't like these comments where they never read the article, esp the ones implying this child would be a risk to Terman students. Just awful.

Posted by MJRichmond, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 22, 2012 at 11:36 am

My understanding is that the district asked/required Colman's family to move him to Terman. Forgetting for the moment that Colman doesn't have CF and the entire discussion is moot, why not move him to JLS which is a lot closer to Jordan. It probably takes 20-30min to drive from Jordan to Terman because of the in-city traffic.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 22, 2012 at 1:49 pm

My guess as to why they want to move him to Terman is that it either has more room or that there is a CF student at JLS.

Posted by Please stop , a resident of Southgate
on Oct 23, 2012 at 12:21 am

Please stop bashing the school, they acted at the advice of doctors, what else did they have to do? I don't want my tax payer money to be spent on legal fees, let the doctors decide if it is a risk or not. Leave the school out of it!

Posted by Participant, a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2012 at 7:49 am

Please Stop; As the result of their actions, there is a lawsuit.

Posted by mom, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 23, 2012 at 6:50 pm

My kid's teacher brought her 3 year to class for 2 full days with a fever and a barking cough. This child has questionable immunizations. My kid has asthma and my dad has lung cancer. Getting these flus is anything but zero risk.

I hope the kid whose name remains private is not expecting to have kids moved off sports teams, parks, or other extra activities. Locker rooms are used by thousands of people... all without health cards that are open to the public. Is this risk ok to take? I wonder how they handle activities or do they go directly home and avoid all contact. Is there an underlying lawsuit pausd is afraid of if they did not move the kid without privacy? There must be more to this story. THey can't have treated a child so poorly and thoughtlessly. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by mom, a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 23, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Wait, in High School many activities involve all schools. music, sports, speech and debate, robotics,golf drama, football games, parades. Who gets to be involved with these activities and who misses out? Teachers, Substitutes guest speakers will need genetic testing??? Will they have to leave if test is positive?

Posted by ducatigirl, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm

ducatigirl is a registered user.

Please keep all the private arguments out of this forum.

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