Yadira Martinez joins Hillsboro School Board at a crucial time
The Hillsboro School Board has appointed Yadira Martinez as its newest member, filling the board's only open seat one week ahead of a controversial vote that could allow contraceptives at the district's school-based health center.
Martinez was sworn in Tuesday, Feb. 13, as the Hillsboro School Board's newest member, replacing former school board president Wayne Clift. Martinez was selected by the board from among 15 applicants. Board members appointed Martinez with a 5-1 vote.
At Martinez's first board meeting Feb. 27, board members are expected to vote on a plan which would give nurses at the district's health center permission to prescribe contraceptives to student patients.
A longtime Hillsboro resident, Martinez knows the issues and controversy surrounding the contraceptive vote intimately.
Martinez was a student at Glencoe High School when she discovered she was pregnant with her first child. Now a dental hygienist, Martinez works at the school-based health center once a week.
Martinez said she plans to
support next week's vote, saying contraceptive access should be available to all students.
"I know that it is a hot topic, but having these contraceptive services available at the school-based health center is the best practice in general," she said.
Though Martinez said she was still able to accomplish everything she wanted to, she admits raising a child while still in high school brought challenges.
"That's not to say I regret anything, but it was a lot more difficult," Martinez said.
The Hillsboro School Board previously considered the issue two years ago. At the time, the board shot down plans to allow contraceptives, arguing that parents should be informed if students request the services. Health care officials say they can't, under state and federal law.
Martinez said parents should be open and honest with their children, if they fear being left out of the conversation if these services are offered at school.
"I would encourage (parents) to start a dialogue with their kids," she said. "Make sure there is open communication there and if they are having reservations, I would invite them to come and meet the providers. They are fantastic people who care enormously for all of the people that they treat."
Board members said Martinez's non-traditional background and deep roots in the Hillsboro community were a major factor in appointing her to the position.
"She works in our community and is passionate about our community," said School Board President Lisa Allen. "I think that sort of lifelong experience as a student and as a parent, as a community member and now community leader is very unique to Yadira."
A mother of three, Martinez grew up in Hillsboro and is raising her three children in the district.
Her eldest son graduated from Glencoe High School and her middle son is currently a sophomore at the school. Her youngest daughter will soon begin preschool at W. Verne McKinney Elementary School.
"Hillsboro is a great city," she said. "It has so much to offer and the schools are great. I can't imagine myself being anywhere else."
Martinez oversees Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center's dental hygiene programs and serves on the Oregon Board of Dentistry, a statewide commission that regulates dentists across the state.
While her time on the commission gives her the opportunity to make change statewide, Martinez said she wanted to get more involved on the local level, as well.
"(I wanted to) make an impact in a city that I live in," she said. "I feel like I can do that on the school board. It's where I can make the most impact."
Martinez said she plans to push the school board for more mentorship programs across the district. She believes this is one way to help close the achievement gap, and one of the reasons she is successful.
"I didn't see my potential until a mentor I worked with told me I can achieve more," Martinez said. "If kids have someone they can look up to, they will succeed."
Martinez replaces Clift, who served on the board for six years before resigning in December. A former Intel engineer, Clift is attending graduate school with plans to become a high school math and science teacher.
Martinez said she considered running in the most recent school board election last May, but ultimately decided she wasn't ready.
"I gave it more thought and when this opportunity came up, I thought I would apply and see what happened," Martinez said. "Even if I wasn't selected, it is still something I would've pursued in the future."
Martinez said she is excited to join the board, but admits she has some catching up to do.
"Everything is overwhelming," she said. "I have a lot to learn, but I am more than up for the task, and I'm sure I will get up to speed soon and will do the best for the district."
By Olivia Singer
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
Follow Olivia at @oliviasingerr
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