Should there be more health clinics in public schools?

Posted at 1:35 PM, Jan 20, 2023

GROSSE POINTE, Mich. (WXYZ) — School health clinics are not uncommon. According to the School-Community Health Alliance of Michigan, there are at least 196 school-based or school-linked health centers and programs.

Tens of thousands of children have used them.

Despite their use in many districts, in the Grosse Pointe Public School System, a plan to use one is leading to controversy.

Two school board members signed a resolution to postpone plans for the Grosse Pointe North Health Clinic. A meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday on the matter can be viewed online.

“This would allow these students with their parents permission to get health care and not have to leave school. We know when kids are in school and healthier, they learn better,” Grosse Pointe Public School System John Dean Superintendent said.

Dean says he believes much of the criticism is based on misunderstandings. He says parents should know that the clinics would have to follow state laws regulating health care for minors.

This means that in all but a limited number of exceptions, parental consent would be required before the student could access care. For example, the law allows a pregnant teen to seek prenatal care without consent of a guardian for the well-being of the teen and baby.

“We have all these critical needs and we're going to give Beaumont (Health) a $700,000 clinic,” Lisa Papas said in November 2022 about the plan.

Papas did not respond to requests for comment. She and fellow school board member Virginia Jeup signed the resolution being considered now.

Papas also voiced concerns last year that a clinic could lead to excess use of pharmaceuticals and less parental control after seeing a pamphlet about medications at another clinic she said she toured.

“Your kids are going to pick these pamphlets up and there is not going to be a parent there,” she said.

One mom told 7 Action News the questions about parental control are, in her opinion, fear-mongering. She says she believes such a clinic would help address a mental health crisis that is hurting students.

A social worker would be part of the clinic staff to provide mental health support for students and families.

“Kids are more stressed out than ever. They are dealing with a lot of stuff that people of my generation didn’t have to deal with and this is a way to support them as we want them to become productive members of society,” Laura Hetzler, a Grosse Pointe schools parent Laura Hetzler said.