Northville board approves seeking funding for 2 in-school health clinics
- Northville Public Schools is moving forward with a proposal to install two school-based health centers
- Some parents have concerns about students being able to access medical services without their parents’ knowledge or consent
- Board members acknowledge mental health concerns continue to be an issue for students
The Northville Public Schools Board of Education voted Tuesday to pursue funding for two school-based health centers despite pushback from some parents and community members concerned about parental rights.
The health centers offer a combination of physical and mental health care services in schools. In Northville, a middle school clinic would include a full-time nurse practitioner, licensed social worker and medical assistant and a part-time medical doctor, according to a district document. There would also be rotating vision and dental services.
A high school clinic would start with services two and half days a week, eventually expanding to five days a week after the first-year.
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Both clinics would be staffed by Michigan Medicine.
Opponents of the centers say they’re concerned that students would be able to access some services — including substance abuse and sexual health services — without needing consent from their parents.
The Tuesday night vote does not guarantee these clinics will be built. The district still has to apply for grant funding from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services grant to support the middle school clinic.
The board voted 6-1 on resolutions authorizing in support of these clinics.
Several people spoke Tuesday night in opposition to the centers.
Jim Mazurek, the trustee who voted against the resolution, said he believes mental health is an issue and that students being isolated and away from school during the pandemic is a cause for the mental health crisis. But he raised doubt that a clinic that offers physical health services is the best way to address mental health concerns.
“What exactly is the problem we want to solve?,” Mazurek asked Tuesday.
Trustee Sarah Prescott, who voted in support for the resolution, said the clinics are not the beginning nor the end of the district trying to improve student mental health concerns.
Lisa McIntyre, board vice president, said she sees the clinics as a “layer, it is not the solution.”
“As a mental health practitioner, to have access to a pediatrician who can talk with the parent about some of the health issues that a client is having, to have that opportunity to connect with those providers, or a nurse practitioner who can give me kind of that medical perspective as a practicing therapist, that is the kind of linked services that do support kids (in) the best way possible,” she said.
Superintendent RJ Webber told Bridge Michigan he is grateful the board voted to support the clinics.
“No matter what about how folks may agree or disagree on how we need to serve and support kids, unequivocally the past two weeks, what I’ve heard people say is that we do have a mental health situation, that our kids need help,” Webber said.
Webber said the district has 14 school counselors, four school psychologists counselors, 11 full-time school social workers and two nurses.
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