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N.Y.C. Approves School Clinics

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The New York City Board of Education last week voted to continue and expand its school health clinics, but delayed making a decision on whether to permit the clinics to dispense contraceptives.

The 5-to-1 decision on June 17 followed the recommendation of Schools Chancellor Nathan Quinones.

Mr. Quinones based his recommendation on a study by Welfare Research Inc., which this month reported that 99 percent of the parents interviewed for the study wanted a clinic in their children's schools. The survey also found that 61 percent of the parents said the clinics should dispense birth-control supplies or prescribe them for sexually active students. (See Education Week, June 17, 1987.)

At the end of the school year, nine clinics were operating in New York City high schools. As a result of last week's vote, the board plans to seek funds from the state and other sources to open four more by the fall.

Seven months ago, the health clinics became the center of a heated public debate when it was revealed that one of the clinics had been dispensing contraceptives to students. (See Education Week, Oct. 22, 1986.)

At that time, the board, which learned of the practice in a staff report on sex education, voted to discontinue dispensing contraceptives for six months.

Robert F. Wagner Jr., the board's president, said last week that he was not sure when, or if, the board would make a policy decision on the issue. "But there is a growing feeling among board members,'' he added, "that we should allow doctors to dispense contraceptives on-site.''

The clinics offer a range of health services, and Gwendolyn Baker, a board member, said at last week's meeting that clinic physicians had indicated that only a minority of the students used the clinic for "sexuality'' reasons.

The majority, she said, need the clinics for basic health care. The board agreed that students must have parental-consent forms to use the clinics.--R.W.

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