PLAQUEMINE — The Iberville Parish School Board voted Monday night to sever its more than 20-year arrangement with the St. Gabriel Health Clinic, activating the 60-day termination clause of its agreement with the nonprofit, which operates health clinics at two east bank schools.
The board’s 7-1 vote came a month after a majority of the board rejected a new three-year proposal from the health clinic to keep operating at East Iberville and the Math, Science and Arts Academy-East campus.
Board member Yolanda Laws was the lone dissenting vote Monday night. Board member Melvin Lodge opted to abstain from voting on the measure.
Assistant District Attorney Scott Stassi, who was asked to step in as legal representative for the school system, said more than two months of negotiations between both sides were unsuccessful in brokering a new deal.
“It seems as if it was creating more problems than solutions,” he told the board Monday.
The clinic’s CEO, Victor Kirk, has said previously he feels the school district was disingenuous during those talks and was harboring plans all along to end its relationship with the nonprofit.
The St. Gabriel Health Clinic, which has served the health care needs of underprivileged East Iberville residents for more than 20 years, was hit recently with a shower of criticism, leading School Board members to ask the administration to revisit the agreement.
Board members’ requests were driven by several complaints from parents about students being pulled from core classes by clinic nurses for medical exams, billing parents’ insurance companies without proper consent prior to treatment and attempting to treat students without parental consent forms on file.
St. Gabriel city officials as well as members of the clinic’s board of directors came out in staunch support of keeping the clinics on the campuses. A community-based organization held a petition drive to try to persuade School Board members to rethink their position on the clinics.
In its proposed agreement to the School Board, officials said the clinic and school system would work in tandem to devise scheduled times for students to be treated that wouldn’t interfere with their core classes.
The draft also outlines a list of services the clinic would provide to students, including vision and hearing screenings, training school nurses for noncomplex procedures and administering medications and assisted feedings to those students who need it.
Board president Darlene Ourso would not say after the meeting what specifically caused the negotiations to fall apart.
“We actually took the time out to try and work it out; Scott really worked hard,” she said.
The administration will use the next 60 days to figure out how the health care needs for east Iberville students will be addressed before school starts this fall.
Ourso said that plan would likely include placing school nurses at both locations.
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