Grant Board ok’s new contract with FHC
By Ken De Laat
There seemed to be an air of cautious optimism among the 100 or so folks who attended the Grant School Board meeting. There was a buzz that an agreement had been reached to keep the Child and Adolescent Health Center at the school.
After the usual proceedings with reports from school staff the board went into closed session to discuss the contract with Family Health Center.
An hour or so later they came back into session and after some discussion the board approved the new contract with Family Health Care. Board members Rob Schutema and Stephanie Deible both expressed concern with some of the contract wording before casting their yes votes. There were a few items that included board involvement in meetings with the CAHC, clarification of various parental notices and some security issues surrounding an entrance to the clinic among others.
And then there was the mural.
All along it had been the contention of those who spoke during public comment that the mural, a painting by a young student containing images that certain board members objected to, was the primary cause of their desire to end the contract for the CAHC. Last year the mural became a national news item putting Grant on the map as having a school board opposing the depictions of gay and transgender images included in the artwork. Artwork that was created to promote more acceptance of the diversity of our youth.
But in the end the contract delivered what the 4 members of the board who have been solidly allied in their opposition to the CAHC, as evidenced by their consistent votes in June and July to terminate the contract, seemingly wanted from the get-go.
From their actions at those previous meetings Ken Thorne, Sabrina Veltkamp-Blok, Rachal Gort, and Richard Vance were evidently prepared to see the demise of the CAHC which would withdraw access to health care, dental care, and increasingly important mental health care to hundreds of Grant students in need.
And now, while facing a recall petition drive, the four have allowed the clinic to stay.
But the mural will be going.
The contract involved minor changes but the wording that gives the board the power to make a decision on what art work and other decor can be in the Center and clearly points to the mural and its departure.
During public comment the board was thanked for their decision but were also reminded…often reminded… that the recall effort would be moving forward.
Here is the statement from Family Health Care regarding the decision.
“We are happy that the Grant School Board has approved a contract that allows us to move forward and continue providing easy access to high-quality health care at the school-based clinic.
The new contract does not change the way services are provided. The language follows all program requirements set forth by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
Stipulations of the contract include increased transparency, formalizing the Board of Education’s involvement with the Community Advisory Council; regular updates provided to the Board on operations of the school-based clinic; utilities for the clinic being billed to the health center or a third-party; and removal of the student-created mural in the lobby of the clinic.
During contract negotiations, it was clear the mural was important to the Board of Education. The student painted the mural to highlight inclusivity and diversity, values that are important to Family Health Care. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of everything we do at Family Health Care. As required by law, we are accepting of all students regardless of age, race, color, national origin, disability, religion, or sex, including sexual orientation or gender identity.
While it is disappointing that the mural must be removed by the end of October, it’s a compromise we reluctantly were willing to accept to ensure the children of the Grant community continue to have access to medical and behavioral health care.”