San Francisco

Palo Alto Teenager Accuses School of Kicking Him Out After Incorrect Diagnosis

A Peninsula teen kicked out of school for a disease he says he never had is now accusing school officials of medical discrimination.

The case is about three years old and involves a 15-year-old who administrators at Palo Alto-based Jordan Middle School believe had cystic fibrosis.

On Wednesday, the teenager, who requested to remain anonymous, tried to convince a judge that his former school went too far, in an effort to protect other students. He said he was wrongfully singled out as being a health risk, but his school had no proof.

“I sort of feel like I was, in a way, betrayed,” the teen said.

The boy and his family are challenging the Palo Alto Unified School District in a federal appeals court in San Francisco. Their case was tossed out of district court.

“Genetic markers are becoming more and more prevalent in society,” attorney Stephan Jaffe said.

The teen said his principal and a few teacher tossed him out of class when he was 12 years old because they thought he had cystic fibrosis.

“They identified me as a sick child, but I wasn't sick, I didn't have any symptoms or any disease,” he insisted. “I just was the carrier of the gene.”

The boy claims he was incorrectly diagnosed after a teacher found a recent genetic screening and revealed it to school leaders. An exam showed that one of his genetic markers make it possible for him to contract cystic fibrosis – but he never got the disease.

The teenager’s attorney also claims the school did nothing about two other students who allegedly had the illness.

“Once genetic information is obtained by places like schools, insurance companies, employers … it could be used against people,” Jaffe said.

But for the boy in question, this case boils down to being able to trust educators again.

“They turn on you and you feel like, 'I was left in the dirt,'” he said.

NBC Bay Area reached out to school officials, who declined to comment due to privacy issues. It could take up to a year before a judge makes a ruling, Jaffe said.

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