ABOUT BLAIR HORNSTINE
Blair L. Hornstine was a high school student from Moorestown Township , New Jersey , who achieved publicity in 2003 by filing suit against the Moorestown Township Board of Education in an effort to enforce both federal law and state law as it relates to special education students. Specifically, she alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title V Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. The gist of the controversy surrounded the fact that she had the highest grade point average among the 300+ students. The Superintendant, Paul Kadri, tried to circumvent the school’s own policy which stated that the student with the highest G.P.A. after seven semesters is awarded valedictorian. Superintendant Kadri send a letter to the student with the second highest grade point average indicating that he was to be considered. However, no such letter was sent to Hornstine. Kadri had the opinion that somehow Hornstine had an unfair advantage since she was a special education student. The violations of the school’s own policy and Kadri’s actions together with the state law and federal law violations created the impetus for the law suit.
Hornstine’s illness that led the school to give her special education status began in the early fall of 1998. She was clinically diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disorder. The ailment ravaged her entire body and left her with sores over 90% of her skin and inside her mouth. It was very difficult for Hornstine to walk and talk. Unfortunately, there is no known cause or any known cure for this infirmity. Initially, Hornstine’s life was dramatically affected due to the appearance of the lesions. She endured some cruel remarks about her altered appearance. Wearing anything but the softest clothing caused extreme irritation and bleeding. Although the disease ultimately went into remission, it left her in a state of discomfort including aching joints, back pain, extreme itching, and sustained periods of chronic fatigue. To her credit, Hornstine managed to live with this paralyzing illness and maintained balance in her life.
BLAIR HORNSTINE'S COMMUNITY SERVICE
In 1994, Blair Hornstine and her brother Adam co-founded a public service organization call the Moorestown Alliance for Goodwill and Interest in the Community, or MAGIC. The organization’s goals included “community service to provide social support and hope to the elderly, disabled, underprivileged, and young women.” The humanitarian service projects were wide and varied. Hornstine initiated an annual food drive in which food staples were collected at the Moorestown Public Schools which raised public awareness of hunger in the community. The thousands of pounds of food that were collected over the years provided healthful and nutritious meals to the needy. Between 1994 and 2003 in cooperation with neighborhood residents in Camden, New Jersey, MAGIC organized ten beautification and revitalization projects. New planters with mums and kale were placed in front of homes in the Cooper Landing and Liberty Park sections of Camden. Graffiti was removed from abandoned warehouses and students painted murals. Between 1994 and 2002, MAGIC collected and distributed prom dresses and accessories to young women who would not otherwise attend their formal affairs. In the fall 2002 in cooperation with a literacy program in Camden, MAGIC received approval from city officials to renovate a dilapidated community center into a library with computers for elementary children as an after school activity and as an alternative to day care. In October 1999 and October 2000, MAGIC joined efforts with community leaders and organizations to reclaim neglected vacant lots and to rejuvenate them into a playground and a park. The new park was adorned with new trees, shrubs, sod, and benches. Playground equipment was installed including swings, slides, and monkey bars. MAGIC’s goal was to provide a safe haven for children and adults from the drugs and violence in their neighborhood. In September 2000, 2001, and 2002, MAGIC organized a clean-up of the Cooper Landing section of Camden. Shovels, rakes, plastic bags, and gloves were donated by The Home Depot as a sponsoring partner with MAGIC. In November 2001, MAGIC banned together with local Camden residents to repair a porch for an elderly man. The porch beams were sanded and painted. Outdoor carpeting was installed and a new railing was constructed. Between 2000 and 2003, MAGIC was instrumental in organizing and performing renovations at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Camden. The improvements included painting both the interior and exterior of the church, restoring the brick steps, installing new bathroom fixtures, and building a new office. In January 2000, MAGIC joined forces with The Smile Train, a non-profit organization committed to eradicate the problems of cleft lips and palates for poor and orphaned girls in China. In four years, MAGIC raised money to fund sixteen cleft operations. In the summer 2001, Blair was invited to attend a conference in the People’s Republic of China and spoke with students and teachers from around the world on the plight of disfigured orphaned girls and the methods to medically correct the problem. Lastly, in the early fall 2000 – 2002 in conjunction with Wal-Mart, MAGIC received donations to purchase and distribute approximately fifty book bags each year to elementary students. The bags were filled with school supplies.
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