Families in Denton Independent School District are raising concerns about plans to add a clinic to a local school, where students could receive medical or mental health care without parents’ knowledge or consent.

Denton ISD school board trustees are set to vote Tuesday night on whether to let PediPlace open a location inside Fred Moore High School in 2024.

PediPlace is a nonprofit pediatric clinic based in Lewisville that provides primary care for children who are uninsured or use CHIP or Medicaid benefits. According to its website, the clinic also provides “integrated mental health care” to children.

“Everything about this clinic makes no sense,” said Melinda Preston, who heads the local advocacy group Denton County Citizens Defending Freedom. 

Clinic proponents say it will decrease students’ absences due to illness and allow them to return to class more quickly.

Critics say the district should stick to educating students.

“This proposed action is another step in the direction of undermining parents and broadening the scope of influence of public education into areas where it has no mandate,” said Terry Senne, a retired educator and public school advocate who ran for school board in May.

Senne said the district should focus on “the primary responsibility of the public education system, which is to provide excellence in education for our children,” instead of becoming a “one-stop shop” for all other issues relating to students.

Less than half of Denton ISD students perform at grade level across all subjects.

“I see grave danger in allowing agreements for provision of counseling services, which can circumvent notification to parents,” Senne added.

Under the proposed partnership agreement, the district will provide existing school space for the clinic, cover utilities and other operating and maintenance costs for the space, and assist with patient check-in.

PediPlace will provide medical staff and supplies, and says it has already appropriated funds for the project. Denton ISD Superintendent Jamie Wilson is on the PediPlace board, which some view as a conflict of interest.

PediPlace already operates a school-based satellite clinic in Lewisville ISD.

The school board meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 22, at the Denton ISD Central Services Building. People wishing to make public comments must fill out a speaker card by 5:30 p.m.

The public can also email comments about the proposed clinic to trustees. 

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.