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Argued on September 27, 2000


The primary issue raised by this appeal is whether Centre County violated the appellants’ civil rights by excluding them from participation in the County’s foster care program because their son has HIV and AIDS, and because of their race. This case began when appellants John and Mary Doe, an interracial couple with an HIV – positive son named Adam,*fn1 appr oached Centre County’s Foster Child Program, seeking to become foster parents. County officials responded by adopting a policy providing that foster families whose members have “serious infectious diseases” may care only for children with the same disease. The policy would permit the Does to car e for uninfected children only if the Does agreed to r elease information regarding their son and the biological par ents executed a written consent releasing the County fr om potential liability. The Does refused to agree to the policy and filed suit, alleging disability discrimination in violation of, among other statutes, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and racial discrimination in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Does sought invalidation of the policy, approval as foster parents, and compensatory and punitive damages. The District Court granted summary judgment to the County on the disability discrimination claims, reasoning that the policy was justified under the ADA’s direct threat exception since foster children placed with the Does could sexually assault Adam and contract HIV .

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