An organization of Culver City parents and residents is waging a last-minute petition drive against a proposed campus health clinic that would make contraceptives available to middle school and high school students.
Parents United for Culver City Youth has sent out about 100 people to canvass neighborhoods and churches to gather signatures of those against the health clinic, organizers said. The group plans to submit the petitions to Culver City Unified School District officials and to protest the clinic proposal when the Board of Education considers it Tuesday night.
Members of Parents United charge that the district failed to give them adequate notification about the clinic project. "What I object to most is the way they went about it, tying to sneak it past us without really informing us," said Marcella Melendez, who has children in Culver City Middle and High School. "They should have gotten us involved so that we could be part of the decision-making process."
School officials said the district did inform parents of meetings where the clinic proposal was explained by UCLA health officials. The issue also has been well publicized in the newspapers and on television, school officials said.
"How much more information can you give?" said Kay Lyou, school board president. "I think that we have given as much public input into this (as possible) . . . This has been going on for months."
Earlier this year, the UCLA Medical School Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics offered to run a health clinic on the joint campus of the Culver City High School and Middle School. The Board of Education appointed a 35-member advisory committee of teachers, students and health professionals to consider the proposal. Last month, the committee recommended by a 24-2 vote that the board approve the health clinic and allow contraceptives to be dispensed there.
Parents United recently received support from a Catholic task force created by Archbishop Roger M. Mahony to oppose the clinic.
The task force, made up mostly of lay professionals, sent representatives to confer with the Culver City group, but is not involved in the petition drive, said Msgr. Charles Fortier, an associate director of family life for the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Opposition to the clinic did not surface until the board's last meeting Dec. 9, when Parents United staged a protest and delivered petitions signed by 200 people against the proposal.
Melendez said the group will try to pack Tuesday's meeting with opponents of the clinic.
Tom Supple, a group organizer and a member of the advisory committee who opposed distribution of contraceptives to students, said members of Parents United are divided over whether the school should have a clinic. All members, however, are opposed to the clinic dispensing contraceptives on campus, he said. Parents United has about 80 members, he said.
The proposed clinic would offer treatment of minor injuries, skin care, vision and hearing testing, immunizations, gynecological care, pregnancy testing and other health services. The clinic also would provide condoms, birth control pills and other contraceptives free of charge to students.