Texas school considers allying with NGOs to aid illegal foreign national students

(The Center Square) – Fredericksburg Independent School District board members are considering partnering with nongovernmental organizations to provide health care services to “a pretty large…

(The Center Square) – Fredericksburg Independent School District board members are considering partnering with nongovernmental organizations to provide health care services to “a pretty large population of undocumented students,” proposed by its social worker, Sarah Salinas.

The children, who were released by the Biden administration into Texas after illegally crossing the southwest border, are referred to as “undocumented” by the district.

Salinas first proposed the plan at a July 17 board meeting, at which she recommended that the district partner with a nongovernmental organization, Frontera Healthcare Network. She provided an overview of what the NGO does, prioritizing healthcare services for undocumented students. 

Frontera’s pediatrician, Dr. Andrea Bray, “is the only pediatrician accepting new patients in Gillespie County” through Medicaid or other federal grants, Salinas said, according to an audio recording of the meeting. The board no longer livestreams or records its meetings to make them accessible to the public.

Frontera provides a range of medical services in clinic, Salinas continued, saying, “As you know, we do have a pretty large population of undocumented students, and so we would never want them to be denied healthcare. We want them to be able to have access to those needs.” 

Frontera, which provides medical, dental, and counseling services, cared for 600 children who qualify for Medicaid “or couldn’t have access to preventative healthcare,” she said. “That’s a really big number. They are doing groundbreaking stuff here.” 

Salinas talked about how expanding Frontera’s role was in line with the district’s strategic plan to strengthen community partnerships. Frontera did not present its proposal to expand its services to the district or attend the meeting. Instead, Salinas represented Frontera by explaining its proposal, which would include creating a general healthcare site at the elementary school, including providing a registered nurse, and doctor’s office clinic and same-day appointments and medication.

The Frontera clinic would also provide behavioral health services at the middle school because “staff, faculty, administrators have all seen across the board that we need more mental health services at the middle school specifically,” Salinas said.

Salinas provides counseling services to all K-12 students in the district, but said, “I am only one person for 3,000 students. We really need more assistance.” The middle school’s two counselors “are bombarded and overwhelmed,” she added.

She also said, “I do want to emphasize. Everything would require parental consent. There is not going to be any concern of any of these medical professionals providing services to our kids without parental consent.”

On Aug. 14, Salinas is presenting another proposal for the district to consider, this time partnering with Caritas Family Assistance Network to provide similar services. 

On the agenda is “Item 7E: Consideration and Approval of an MOU with Caritas Family Assistance Network (CFAN).” It states, “FISD has sought the services of an organization who can assist the District with identifying resources that directly impact the educational progress of our students. The Caritas Family Assistance Network will provide the necessary assistance to students and families by partnering with the District and identifying available resources. Administration is recommending the approval of the MOU.”

After the last board meeting and after seeing the agenda for tonight’s meeting, concerned parents in Fredericksburg contacted The Center Square and Sheena Rodriguez, the president of a Texas-based advocacy organization, Alliance for a Safe Texas, expressing concerns. Rodriguez is calling on taxpayers and parents to require the board to provide transparency and will be providing them with resources at the meeting.

Fredericksburg is a 4A district with 3100 students enrolled last school year.

Rodriguez encourages parents and taxpayers to ask, “How many undocumented children are enrolled in the district? Where are they coming from? Are they coming with families or are living with sponsors? If sponsors, have the sponsors been vetted, and by whom?”

She also says taxpayers and parents need to know more information about CFAN, including who runs it and funds it and what percentage, if any, local taxpayers would be on the hook for. 

“More importantly, does CFAN have a track record of working with other districts in Texas? If so, which ones?” she asks.

Rodriguez told The Center Square, “This is so much bigger than Fredericksburg ISD. Taxpayers and parents need to be aware that there is a concerted effort to introduce NGO mental or medical health clinics into public schools. This could be replicated statewide. If the NGOs aren’t already in your neighborhood, they are coming. It’s a significant parental rights issue that deserves a statewide and national attention.”