Boy Denied Access to School Due to Genetic Mutation

Colman Chadam has been denied attendance at Palo Alto's Jordan Middle School because he has the genetic mutation for cystic fibrosis. The disease is not contagious, but school officials feel that he could pose a serious health risk to fellow students.

Chadam carries the genetic mutation, but does not have the disease; his parents voluntarily told the school of the mutation, even though it was not required. It was after the disclosure that the Jordan Middle School decided it would be best for Chadam to transfer schools, which would require him to go to another school three miles away from home.

The school has said that Chadam would need to change schools because there are other students at the school who do have active cystic fibrosis. Chadam could, without meaning to, pose a further risk to them. His parents, though, argue that because his cystic fibrosis isn't active, he poses no threat.

"They made this decision without seeing one medical record on my son," Jennifer Chadam told "We were shocked and dismayed."

The Chadams went to court in order to stop the transfer, but the judge only scheduled a hearing to decide whether Colman should stay or go. They will be back in court on Oct. 25 for the hearing, and until then, he will receive home schooling.

"This is a very unusual situation," the school's attorney, Lenore Silverman, explained. "The district is not willing to risk a potentially life-threatening illness among kids."

Yet Colman's mother expressed her views in a different way.

"Honestly, if I felt Colman was a risk to others, I would move him. I don't want anyone to get sick. For some reason, the school district wants to diagnose my son before the doctors know how," she said.