Hello. My name is Tricia Melloy and I am a nurse at Wilson Middle School. I am here today to talk about the FACE office. This school year the FACE office was put in charge of handling the students with non-compliant immunizations. This task should have been managed by the school district’s certified nursing staff, and not the non-medically trained FACE department. I have one major question about this whole situation: why did the school district not utilize the employees with the medical background and credentials to oversee the immunizations?
FACE sent home postcards with student’s personal information, called parents, and sent letters repeatedly with incorrect information. Most times they were sent to families that were already compliant, creating more confusion.
FACE, under the direction of Karyn Lynch, never contacted the school nurses to ask for our input. We were never asked what process was already in place for our students in regard to their immunization status. The FACE office took it upon themselves to change student statuses without the proper documentation to justify this change.
In the past, students were excluded from school when they were not compliant. This would cause parents to quickly bring the child up to date on their shots. Since the district has refused to allow exclusion from school for immunizations for the past three years, the number of non-compliant students has risen to unprecedented levels.
While being overseen by the FACE office, this immunization issue has grown from a problem to an absolute debacle. Despite the fact that it could have been handled by the district’s certified nurses, we continue to be shut out of the process. But we are left to live and work with the consequences it is creating. If we had been able to exclude students for the past three years, we would not be here today. But as it is, the School District has an obligation to the parents and students of Philadelphia to understand that they never should have attempted to solve a medical issue without the input from their own nurses.
Dr. Hite, you are the superintendent. Do you take responsibility for wresting this authority from the certified school nurses and handing it to the FACE office?