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Teacher Says He Has AIDS, Gains Parental Support

<i> From Associated Press</i>

A kindergarten teacher who wanted parents to know he has AIDS was applauded by many of those attending a meeting held to address questions about his battle with the disease.

“I feel wonderful,” teacher Anthony Marks, 38, said after the Tuesday night meeting at La Fiesta School, where he has taught for three years. “I am greatly encouraged. I feel a lot of support from this community.”

But while some parents voiced support, others in attendance stayed seated.

School administrators revealed last week, at Marks’ request, that the teacher has AIDS but plans to continue working three days a week when school resumes next Tuesday. Parents of children assigned to Marks’ class were told the students could be transferred.

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Four transfers have been requested, Principal Lou Colby said.

About 150 parents attended the meeting. Another is scheduled for today.

Some parents said that, although health officials say AIDS cannot be transmitted through casual contact, they still had questions about the issue.

“I felt they had this meeting so parents could voice their opinions, and when I voiced my opinion, which was a negative one, I don’t feel they recognized that I have a problem,” said Kimberley Ignacio, whose 5-year-old is assigned to Marks’ afternoon kindergarten session.

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“I don’t have a problem with the man, I’m grateful he came forward. I have a problem with the disease,” she added.

Ignacio said she is concerned about her son receiving medical care from Marks if the boy were to fall down on the playground. She said a transfer would be impossible.

“I’m a single mother with no car. Because of my work schedule, my son cannot be in the morning class or go to another school,” she said.

Although he was not required to do so, Marks notified officials of the Cotati-Rohnert Park School District last May that he had the disease.

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By law, school officials were unable to tell the public without Marks’ consent.


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