Panel Approved to Study School Clinic

Times Staff Writer

A task force to study whether the San Diego Unified School District should open a campus health clinic to dispense contraceptives to students was approved Tuesday by the school board on a 3-2 vote.

The controversial proposal, which drew almost 150 people to the school board meeting, won the support of Trustees Kay Davis, Dorothy Smith and Susan Davis--who, as president of the board, cast the tie-breaking vote on the measure. Trustees John Witt and Larry Lester opposed creation of the panel.

Responding to allegations by Lester and the public that Supt. Thomas Payzant would staff the 30-member task force with members favoring a clinic, the board also decided to allow each of the five trustees to appoint a member to the panel.

The five people tapped will replace two school employees, two school board members and a San Diego Community Foundation representative who would have been on the task force under Payzant's original plan.

The board's vote came after 29 people--19 of whom opposed the proposal--testified on whether a task force and health clinic are needed. The clinic would primarily provide adolescents with routine medical services such as physical examinations, immunizations, laboratory tests and counseling, district health officials have said.

But the proposal to distribute contraceptives drew vehement opposition from community members at Tuesday's hearing and another a week earlier. Detractors, some of whom represented religious and anti-abortion organizations, said the availability of contraceptives would encourage sexual activity by teen-agers and undermine the moral authority of parents.

Proponents of the clinic endorsed the idea as a way of decreasing the rate of teen-age pregnancies.

In voting against the task force, Witt said he feared that the panel would endorse the creation of a clinic. Lester said that the school board "is giving guidance or advice to young people in matters that are very, very private--matters best dealt with by institutions like the family and the church."

But the board's three women members won out. Trustees Smith and Davis endorsed the need for better health services for students who are now receiving inadequate care. Davis said she approved the task force in order to learn more about the concept before making a decision.

The panel is scheduled to make a recommendation to the board by July 1.

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