Censured FUSD trustee questions safety of program offering students access to reproductive care

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno County program allows teens to take reproductive health care matters into their own hands. But one Fresno Unified trustee says it could be hampering their safety.

"It's not a birth control issues; it's a safety of your kid's issue," said Fresno Unified trustee Terry Slatic.

Slatic is referring to the Health Education and Recruitment Transportation Team or HEARTT.

The Fresno Economic Opportunity Commission (EOC) runs the countywide, free program, and provides transportation for students 13 and up who want to get birth control, and other reproductive care. The service transports young people to receive services from the EOC's Community Health Center.

During a recent board meeting, Slatic questioned the safety of the program and how it could be violating district protocols.

His questions come weeks after his fellow board members censured Slatic following a series of investigations and misconduct.

"This is the safety of the kid, who is being driven in a car. (The district) does not have full knowledge of who is driving it," Slatic said.

Another one of his concerns is who's responsible for the student once they're off-campus.

Under California law, students in 7th-12th grade can get reproductive and sexual health services, and parents do not have to be informed.

The laws have been in place for decades and allow minors to leave campus to get care services.

"Young people do have the right to access confidential clinical services during school hours," said Socorro Santillan with Planned Parenthood.

Julio Romero with the EOC says students arrange their appointment and are picked up from campus in the morning.

He says the drivers are all EOC employees who have been vetted and fingerprinted.

The drivers are responsible for the students during the appointment.

"When we transport them, we are responsible for them," said Julio Romero with Fresno EOC.

The program is so widely used, Romero says they've needed to get an extra van to meet the demand.

However, Slatic still wants clear answers from the district.

"I want a comprehensive analysis of this to include the points I'm bringing up," he said.

EOC officials say the program uses unmarked vans to protect the privacy of youth, and at this point, are transporting about 20 minors from several school districts a week to their clinics.
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