District 51 board members weighed installing a health clinic in Grand Junction High School’s new building as KREX took an in-depth look at central high school’s health clinic Marillac clinic. By every measure the clinic is a resounding success serving nearly 5,000 students between 2020 and 2022. 

“We give the educators what exactly they’re looking for. Higher attendance, healthier kids, higher performance, less depression, anxiety.”

Says Marillac CEO Kay Ramachandran.

And yet during Tuesday’s contentious board meeting the 3 most recently elected board members pitted themselves against a clinic that could have helped thousands of GJHS students.  They cited a lawsuit against Marillac, but the suit had nothing to do with operations at Central High School.  Instead, it was a follow up suit from an employee who had filed a now dismissed discrimination case against Marillac. 

Ramachandran asserted,

“She lost the case. And the outcome was in favor of Marillac, basically they told the employee you were never discriminated against.”

Longer standing board members accused Andrea Haitz of making up her mind before the dismissed suit even came up, and Haitz admitted that was true,

“My mind was made up prior to the lawsuit…” 

Which was met with an unsurprised response from board member Doug Levinson,

“Well I know it was.”

Marillac CEO Kay Ramachandran says the rejection only hurts kids, who would have had free access to physical, mental and even dental treatments,

“The phrase I use is basket of services. You’re mandated to provide a basket of services.  The bulk of the services in the basket require parental consent.”

And the few services kids may have accessed without parent permission, reproductive health, behavioral health, and a select few vaccines? 

Ramachandran says,

“I did propose this to the school board and I’ve never to date got a response from them.  I said I am willing to carve out all the services that require minor consent and not provide it on the premises.”

Board president Andrea Haitz told meeting attendees that Marillac was welcome to locate down the street, knowing that was not the case.

“If the clinic is off campus, it doesn’t qualify as a school-based health center. So, I cannot access federal funds, I cannot access state funds which is the foundational funding for a school-based health center.” 

Ramachandran explained.

And as it turns out, not just any school can get an on-campus health center, Grand Junction High School and others must qualify based on the number of free and reduced lunches and high-risk youth behavior which usually come along with low performance, poor health, and delinquency.  Which is exactly why schools like GJHS need the health clinic.  Just like Central High School, GJHS met the criteria, and the center wouldn’t have cost D-51 a dime.  

Ramachandran said she would have even paid them.

“It was gonna cost them nothing, just the space.  And I would have paid fair market value for it.”

The D-51 board was already under fire for a last-minute public disclosure that it would close three local schools against the wishes of thousands of staff, students and parents as soon as this fall.  Its latest move, to slam the door on a non-profit health center already proven to help thousands of students most in need, adds fuel to public scrutiny that board members once demanding transparency may not have been transparent in their reasons for voting the clinic down.