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May 2024

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Photo by Dylan R.N. Crabb Visible at the long desk to the right (from foreground to background) are Board Vice-President Esequiel Romero, Board President Jason Rael, and Board Member Juan Cisneros.

Sunrise Clinic Rejected By Questa School Board

At their September 6 meeting, the Questa Independent School District (QISD) Board rejected the memorandum of understanding (MOU) to contract with Sunrise Clinics for a school-based health center. The vote was 3 to 2 to deny the MOU. Board vice president Esequiel Romero and board secretary Michael Cordova voted in favor of the MOU.

The Board expressed a particular issue regarding a specific survey that the would-be health clinic would give to students in the absence of their parents or guardians, and then send on to state authorities.
“This student intake form for ages 12 and under, it says here,” said Board President Jason Rael to Sunrise representative Timothy Dodge. “What does this have to do with the health of the student?”

Dodge explained that the form was a requirement from the New Mexico Department of Health.
“They require it,” said Dodge. “Sunrise Clinics has been providing them to other school districts in the state, but if there’s a question that the school district is not comfortable with, we simply don’t provide that information or ask the question.”

“If we start from the beginning,” continued President Rael as he reviewed the survey. “It’s… the seventh bullet — ’was the patient’s parent present when this questionnaire was completed: yes or no?’— You’re not going to trick me into thinking that because they signed a consent form that you’re not gonna ask these kinds of questions to a 3rd-grader without a parent present. That’s what we were against from the beginning.”

“That’s what it is, Jay,” said Board Member Cisneros.

“What I’m against is: how can somebody under the age of 12 answer these questions without their parents present,” continued President Rael. “If you’re 17, 18, 19, up through high school, I still think a parent ought to know what kind of questions are being asked of you, so does this packet [holding up the survey] go home along with the consent form?”

There was a back-and-forth between the Board president and the Sunrise representative as Rael appeared to cross-examine Dodge for more straightforward answers.

“No,” confirmed Dodge.

“This could really get misconstrued, by the way I’m looking at it, in a report to [the Childrens Youth and Family Department],” said President Rael.

The Board expressed conflicting sentiments between the need for more access to mental healthcare in schools and their concern over an apparent lack of transparency between this proposed school-based health center and parents. That lack of transparency was ultimately the reason why the MOU was voted down.

A recording of the QISD’s September 6 board meeting is available at the Questa del Rio News Facebook page at https://bit.ly/45PWlKM.