School Based Health Center Investigation

WHEREAS: Subsection A of R.S. 40:31.3 directs the Office of Public Health, Department of Health and Hospitals to establish an adolescent school health initiative program to facilitate and encourage development of comprehensive health centers in public middle and secondary schools in the State of Louisiana to provide preventive health services, counseling, acute health services, and appropriate referral for acute health services;

WHEREAS: Subsection C of R.S. 40:31.3 specifically prohibits personnel at school based health centers (hereafter "SBHC") from "counseling or advocating in any way or referring any student to any organization for counseling or advocating abortion" and from "distributing at any public school any contraceptive or abortifacient drug, device or other similar product";

WHEREAS: allegations have surfaced that some personnel at SBHC may be violating the foregoing provisions of Subsection C of R.S. 40:31.3, thereby jeopardizing public and legislative approval and support for the program; and

WHEREAS: due to such concerns, certain members of the Legislature were opposed to the appropriation in the General Appropriations Act, Act Number 17 of the 1996 Regular Session of 1996, of $2.65 million to fund 15 SBHC for the 1996-97 fiscal year, and the governor received numerous requests to make a line-item veto of the $2.65 million appropriation;

NOW THEREFORE I, M.J. "MIKE" FOSTER, JR., Governor of the State of Louisiana, by virtue of the Constitution and the laws of the State of Louisiana, do hereby order and direct as follows:

SECTION 1: The secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals (hereafter "secretary") shall head an investigation regarding the allegations of violations of Subsection C of R.S. 40:31.3 by a few of the personnel employed by SBHC, and if the secretary finds evidence of violations of the statutory prohibition, the secretary shall take appropriate action against those who violated the statute.

SECTION 2: The secretary's investigation shall be conducted in such a manner as not to violate the right to privacy, as established by Article I, Section 5 of the Louisiana Constitution of 1974, of those students who have availed or who will avail themselves of the services of SBHC.

SECTION 3: The secretary shall determine the most effective means of preventing future violations of R.S. 40:31.3(C) and shall immediately implement those means or procedures consistent with state law.

SECTION 4: The secretary shall issue a report on the findings of the investigation to the governor, the House and Senate Committees on Health and Welfare, and the School Based Health Clinic Task Force, no later than February 15, 1997.

SECTION 5: All departments, commissions, boards, agencies, and officers of the state, or any political subdivision thereof, are authorized and directed to cooperate with the Department of Health and Hospitals in implementing the provisions of this order.

SECTION 6: The provisions of this order are effective upon signature and shall remain in effect until amended, modified, terminated, or rescinded by the governor, or terminated by operation of law.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand officially and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Louisiana, at the Capitol, in the City of Baton Rouge, on this 16th day of December, 1996.

M.J. "Mike" Foster, Jr.

Fox McKeithen
Secretary of State