Woodstock School District 200 Board uncertain about health clinic over parental consent issue

Clinic can't legally require parental consent for pregnancy, STD testing

WOODSTOCK – The fate of a school-based health clinic, first scheduled to open in August 2015, is uncertain after a legal stipulation about parental consent was explained to Woodstock School District 200 Board members Tuesday night.

A memorandum of agreement for the District 200 Health and Wellness Center, meant to provide and improve health services to students, was approved by the board in July 2015 pending a final legal review, according to district documents.

The review, Superintendent Mike Moan said, made more clear the fact that, under state law, the clinic could not require parental consent for certain services: pregnancy testing and sexually transmitted infection testing.

"We cannot require parental consent," Moan said, noting past conversations among the school board that emphasized the importance of such consent. "They can consult, they can work with the student, but if the student comes in and asks for one of those two services, we have to provide them on-site without parental consent."

At least one board member initially expressed support in moving the project forward as is.

"That's something I completely don't like," board member Paul Meyer said of the law. "I think as a parent I would like to know what my children are doing, but you have to look at the overall picture.

"I think what we have here is something that would be extremely helpful for this community."

But board President Camille Goodwin said the parental consent piece could create issues between the district and parents.

"It's, I think, a very polarizing issue in the community," Goodwin said. "We need to encourage parents to be our educational partners, and I'm very much afraid if we went forward with the plan as is, we would be causing a divide."

In order to be a fully functional health clinic, those services would have to be provided, Moan said. He added that he was willing to explore whether a facility with a more limited scope of services, potentially focusing on mental health and excluding the services in question, was possible.

He promised the board he would come back to the next meeting with options as far as how the district could proceed considering most members expressed discomfort with the clinic moving forward as it's currently laid out.

The District 200 clinic would be the product of a federal grant for more than $86,000, and a collaboration between the district and Community Health Partnership of Illinois, a federally qualified health center.

Jina Ramirez, director of operations for the partnership, said the two entities have been working together on this for about two and a half years.

She added that as a health care provider, the clinic would need to offer the pregnancy and STD testing in question in order to be lawful.

The initial delay in opening was because the partnership's application to the Health Resources and Services Administration took additional time to process.

In order for that application to be valid, the center would have to open by April 26 this year, Ramirez said.

District officials first expressed concern over the parental consent piece in November, she added.