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2/4/2021 Sen. Bell, Rep. Morales raise concerns about SMART clinics in Providence Schools
STATE HOUSE – Sen. Samuel Bell and Rep. David Morales wrote to state and Providence education leaders today expressing deep concern about SMART clinics opened in recent weeks at Mount Pleasant High School and Roger Williams Middle School.

The legislators listed numerous concerns, including lack of transparency shrouding the program, apparent release of students’ personal and health information without proper consent, reports of the program billing students’ families’ insurance for services usually performed by school nurse teachers, the dismissal of the school nurse teachers at the schools, and more.

“These clinics appear to be a commercial intrusion into public schools, one that opportunistically lures students into using fee-for-service health care, possibly without obtaining proper consent, including in situations where a language barrier might prevent students and their parents from being able to learn that they will be billed. These clinics appear to be privatizing the valuable services that are provided for free at all other public schools by school nurse teachers, at students’ families’ expense,” said Senator Bell (D-Dist. 5, Providence).

Said Representative Morales (D-Dist. 7, Providence), “While these are being touted as community health clinics, they are charging students for services that are supposed to be provided by a school nurse teacher free of charge. What is most concerning is the lack of transparency around these clinics when it comes to privacy and obtaining the consent of students and their families. From the experiences I've heard of, there are students and families who have no idea what they are signing when provided with forms from the clinic. Instead, all our public school students deserve a full-time school nurse teacher they can approach with comfort, not a fee-for-service health care system.”

The letter, sent to state Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green, members of the state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education and Providence Schools Superintendent Harrison Peters today, is below.

Senator Samuel Bell
212 Gray St.
Providence, RI 02909
Representative David Morales
16 Academy Ave.
Providence, RI 02908
February 4, 2021
Education Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green
RI Department of Education
255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI  02903
Dear Commissioner Infante-Green,
It has come to our attention that the Mount Pleasant High School and Roger Williams Middle School communities are experiencing a loss of their School Nurse Teachers. We are deeply concerned with the introduction of SMART Clinics within the school buildings. In less than two weeks, there have been several concerning developments:
  • Removal of two School Nurse Teachers from their buildings for not signing the SMART Clinic contract, which would invalidate their Providence Teacher’s Union contract and hinder their pension.
  • Blatant lack of transparency surrounding the for-profit services being offered to students and their families, many of whom are low-income or non-English-speaking.
  • Lack of clarity around access to students’ private health information/HIPPA. SMART Clinic circumnavigated School Nurse Teachers to gain private health information on students.
  • Billing family health care/insurance after treating students who arrive for small things, like a headache or obtaining sanitary products.
  • A request for personal records without any written consent from students’ families, (i.e. request for medical records and request for Individualized Education Plans).
  • Misuse of school nurses to lure students into utilizing their services and then billing for them.
  • Students are receiving $5 CVS gift cards for consent to treatment at the clinic.
  • SMART Clinic advertises that they will service student family members and other community members. This allows strangers and other adults access into the building.
For the reasons identified above, we need to demand that leadership be held accountable and ask for transparency behind the decisions that have led to these actions. We also ask that you work with us to fully reinstate the School Nurse Teachers, as they are integral and irreplaceable staff members within school communities. We need to send a reminder that Providence students and families are not for sale.


Samuel Bell
Senator, District 5
David Morales
Representative, District 7

Cc: Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, Superintendent Peters

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923