Let Cystic Fibrosis Carrying Student Go To School

Target: Palo Alto Unified School District

Goal: Allow cystic fibrosis carrying student to continue to attend classes at his middle school

An 11-year-old boy in California has been told that he must transfer schools because he carries the genetic mutation needed to develop cystic fibrosis. While Colman Chadam has so far not developed cystic fibrosis and cystic fibrosis is a noncommunicable disease, the school claims that there are still inherent health risks if he continues to attend classes at that school.  The Palo Alto Unified School District believes continuing classes at his middle school would be a risk to another student who has fully developed cystic fibrosis.

While those born with the genetic mutation needed for the chronic lung disease but who do not develop cystic fibrosis are often prone to respiratory infections, there is no chance they are a threat to any other individual who does not have the cystic fibrosis gene. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic mutation that requires both parents to be carriers of the gene in order for a child to have a possibility of being born with it.

The school district’s concern arose out of evidence that claims that when cystic fibrosis carriers and those with cystic fibrosis make contact, there is a possibility of a cross-contamination of bacteria that could pose high risks of infection. However, these risks are minimal if these individuals practice proper hygiene. Students who are known carriers or already have the disease can also avoid personal contact. Chadam had previously gone to school with students who had cystic fibrosis and had no issue.

Sign the petition below, and stand up for a child’s right to go to school. If this logic keeps getting applied, Colman Chadam could be asked to keep transferring schools until he finds a school without a student who has cystic fibrosis. No child should have her or his education so disrupted when there are viable alternatives.


Dear Camille Townsend, President of the Palo Alto Unified School District School Board,

I understand that public health is a huge concern for school officials, especially if there is any chance that liability may fall onto the school district. However, there are many ways to manage health issues without forcing a student to transfer schools.

Colman Chadam deserves to go to school and not have his education interrupted by accusations that have not been thoroughly thought out. The risk between cystic fibrosis carriers and those who have cystic fibrosis can be greatly reduced by encouraging all parties to practice good hygiene. Advising that these students avoid direct personal contact would also greatly reduce the risk of infection.

There are several options that could be implemented that do not include forcing Colman Chadam out of school. The less disruption in a child’s education the better. Please reconsider your decision to force Colman Chadam to go to school. He does not pose a great threat to anyone and deserves to continue his education without disruption.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: PaloAltoArea.com

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One Comment

  1. Genetic disorders are not transmitted by contact. they are inherited in the DNA of the individual. this is totally absurd, and whoever made this decision should get an education.

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