Pre-school denies HIV boy expelled

6:15 am on 11 May 2012

The Whangarei pre-school at the centre of a row over a child with HIV says the boy has not been expelled.

The boy, 4, was sent home this week after the pre-school learned he was HIV positive.

The centre involved is run by a Maori Trust on the grounds of a Whangarei primary school.

A teacher at the pre-school has told Radio New Zealand the boy has not been expelled, and could say no more.

But the principal of the primary school, who has asked not to be named, said he understands the pre-school asked the parents to keep the child home until it could organise a care plan for him.

He said he became worried about the safety of the little boy's older siblings after about 20 upset parents came to his office on Wednesday and a couple demanded the family's name and address.

The principal said he asked the whanau to keep the boy's older siblings home for a week until the issue is sorted out, and they agreed.

He said the incident raises the question of whether parents should have to disclose HIV as a health issue, when they enrol a child - just as they would tell a school about asthma or a heart problem, so a care plan can be drawn up.

He said it has also highlighted the ignorance about HIV that has descended on the community since the days of the young AIDS awareness battler Eve van Grafhorst, who died in 1993.

The principal said he has never had a child at his school with HIV as far as he knows and the Ministry of Education has been less than helpful in explaining the relevant policies.

He said he has called a meeting at the school on Monday with the ministry, and health officials including a paediatrician to work out how the school should deal with the issue.

Earlier, the Aids Foundation said the pre-school has has acted out of wilful ignorance.

The foundation said the childcare centre is persecuting the boy and creating hysteria in the community.

Executive director Shawn Robinson said the centre has ignored all advice on HIV.

The Human Rights Commission said the centre may have breached the Human Rights Act by discriminating against the child.