Our Vision: It’s Time for the District to Re-Sharpen Its Focus

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Brownell High School was a suitable location to hold the Grosse Pointe Public School System Board of Education meeting on January 19 due to frequent interruptions by some audience members, clapping, applause, and boos. This uninviting behavior, typical of a high school student’s lack of self-control, often drowned out community members as they attempted to make public comments about the proposed health clinic at Grosse Pointe North High School.
In an evening equal parts business and turmoil, the BoE made it through the nearly four-hour meeting and voted 4-3 to halt work on the plan. The clinic cost nearly $1 million, as reported on page 1A of today’s Grosse Pointe News.
But today offers the district a new opportunity to develop an alternative that doesn’t involve our sinking fund taking a $1 million hit. We ask the board to partner with students, faculty, and staff to assess our district’s collective mental health needs and seek a supportive, financially sound option to help them—without the district hyperbolizing a sudden, urgent desire to provide access to health care for our entire community.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services team that reviewed Corewell’s grant application for Grosse Pointe clearly said that our district has not demonstrated a strong need for a health clinic. This information came to light thanks to former BoE candidate Will Broman, who obtained the documents under a Freedom of Information Act request. Grosse Pointe News also reviewed the documents.
Grant reviewers stated that our district’s needs included in the application “do not reflect the need for services other than in a county with high-risk disparities.”
This means that we are in a county (Wayne) that demonstrates need, but our actual school district does not.
The MDHHS team also said in their review that the app contained “little evidence or data provided to support the need for medical services in the immediate area in Wayne Co.”
In short: the grant application data and comments from the MDHHS make it clear that while a school clinic in Grosse Pointe could be beneficial, it is not the critical need that some insist it is. It is evident that our district leadership has tried to adapt to the needs of our community to use a state-funded grant.
It has also become abundantly clear, based on community, faculty, and student feedback, that we must develop ways to increase support for our students’ mental health.
A viable alternative for meeting our students’ mental health needs could be the state’s E3 program, which provides “comprehensive on-site mental health services with needs of mild to moderate severity.” The E3 (Expanding, Enhancing Emotional Health) program was specifically suggested to Grosse Pointe in the MDHHS feedback, saying it was better suited for the GPPSS than a health clinic.
The district could also partner with the Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods Family Center, which offers a variety of mental health-based programs including suicide prevention, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, mindfulness and meditation, and family dynamics. Perhaps there are ways to formalize linking the center’s local network of psychiatrists, therapists, and other professionals with underprivileged students.
If increasing our district’s focus on mental health seems somewhat unsympathetic, consider this: by using this grant, we are taking dollars away from a school district with greater demonstrated need than ours. For example, Perry Public Schools in Shiawassee County also applied for the subsidy but was denied funding despite having more than the minimum number of points to qualify for it.
One of Perry’s biggest demonstrations of need is that the district is located 14 miles from the closest concentration of medical services, such as urgent care, doctors’ offices or hospitals. Additionally, Perry has twice as many economically disadvantaged students across the district as GPPSS. That’s double what we’re dealing with here, folks. If our numbers are making some scream that the sky is falling in Grosse Pointe, imagine what they are facing in Perry.
Can you look in the mirror with this information and say that Grosse Pointe’s need is greater than other school districts that have applied? Correctly sizing our need for school health care, when faced with another district’s much greater need, defines empathy.
A brick-and-mortar health center isn’t our only option, as some in town would have you believe — it’s just the most expensive one. This project deserves a break to allow for more time and research to find an effective and financially sound mental health alternative for our students, staff and community, as it has from the beginning.

Our Vision: It’s Time for the District to Re-Sharpen Its Focus

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