You are on page 1of 17

CASE STUDIES Legal and Ethical Issues in Working with Minors in Schools

Presented by Dr. Carolyn Stone, University of North Florida

Carolyn Stone, Ed.D. University of North Florida 4567 St. Johns Bluff Road, S. Jacksonville, Florida 32224 (904) 620-1828

The following cases have been developed by referring to: actual situations which have occurred in schools all over the nation; court cases; legislation; and

ASCA and ACA codes. References Fisher, L. & Sorenson, P. (1996). School Law for counselors, psychologists, and social workers. White Plains, NY: Longman. Jacob-Timm,S.; & Hartshorne,T.S. (1998). Ethics and law for school psychologists. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Loewenberg, F.M.; & Dolgoff, R. (1996). Ethical decisions for social work practice. Itasca, IL: F.E. Peacock Publishers, Inc. Petrila, J.; & Otto, R.K. (1996). Law & mental health professionals. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Stone, C. (in press for 6/05). Ethics and Law for School Counselors. American School Counselor Association: Alexandria, VA. CASE 1 Directory Information Ms. Sheffield disappeared with her son Richard to escape an abusive husband. Ms. Sheffield enrolled Richard in your school without a word about their problems. You published the honor roll of your fifth graders in the newspaper and Richards name was among them. A relative of Mr. Sheffield saw Richards name in the paper and contacted Mr. Sheffield. Ms. Sheffield is furious as she feels she must uproot her family and seek a new town in order to hide. She maintains that the school acted improperly by publishing her childs name without her permission. Did the school act legally when they published Richards name in the newspaper? Points to Consider Directory Information: name, address, telephone, date birth, field of study, official activities sports, weight, height for sports, dates of attendance, degrees awards and honors received, most recent educational institution, photograph CASE 2 Student Records/Case Notes You have been seeing Stephen for individual counseling for three months. You have received a request from Stephens mother for copies of all school records. His mother who is incarcerated in another state has also asked for your case notes. Are you legally required to provide her with records? Must you provide her with your case notes? Points to Consider To be exempt the information must be: 1) a memory aid, 2) not shared or accessible, 3) a private note created solely by the individual possessing it, and 4) include only observations and professional opinions. CASE 3 Legitimate Educational Interest Your cousin coaches Little League baseball. He would like information on a student in your school that he coaches. He is very fond of the young man who seems to be having vision difficulty. The coach asked the boys parents

about his problem and the parents dismissed it with he can see, he is just uncoordinated. Your cousin would like for you to look at the vision screening results in this childs student record to see if a problem has been noted. Is there an ethical or legal dilemma here? Legitimate Educational Interest1. Perform appropriate tasks within the persons job description 2. Perform a task related to a students ed 3. Perform task related to discipline 4. Provide a service or benefit relating to the student to student family such as counseling, health care or job placement CASE 4 Students and Their Records You are a school counselor, school psychologist, or social worker. Can you honor a students request for information from their school record? Peter is an eighteen-year-old college student who lives at home. His parents have requested copies of his records from you, his former high school counselor. Must you seek Peters permission before releasing his records to his parents? The army-recruiting officer wants Peters records. Who must give consent? Peter, his parents, both Peter and his parents? Points to Consider FERPA allows school districts to establish policies on student access. FERPA defines an eligible student as one who is 18 years old. Parents access secondary records as long as the student is a dependent on the federal tax code. CASE 5 Violating Privacy of Educational Records Mrs. Shubuta complains to you that her child is being humiliated and his privacy rights violated because his teacher has the students exchange papers to grade and the students then call out the grades for recording. Her child has serious learning difficulties and his grades are always very low. She says her lawyer has explained that FERPA rights are violated because his grades are educational records. Is her lawyer right? Points to Consider Supreme Court Case Owasso Public Schools v. Falvo Homework assignments and tests and grades assigned to them are not education records because they are not maintained Once recorded in the teachers grade book then the grades are maintained. What is your advocacy role? CASE 6 Falsifying Student Records

You are a school counselor. You enjoy the role of accomplishing the impossible to help your high school students get scholarships. Bert, one of your seniors, is a talented rower who is being recruited by the six universities in the country who offer rowing scholarships. These schools all require four years of science to include physics. Bert dropped physics in his junior year so that he could pick up weight lifting to help his rowing. It was unknown to Bert and to you how this decision would plague him down the road. He has the grades, SAT scores, and talent to get into any of these schools but not the physics course and certainly not the money. Efforts to right the situation have failed until you speak directly to one of the coaches recruiting this young man. The coach encourages you to get physics on the transcript somehow. Physics would have been an easy for this student. Bert needs this scholarship and a chance at the future. You put physics on the transcript. Bert gets his scholarship. Did the end justify the means? Your state Professional Practices Commission recommends that you not be fired. Can you be fired by your school district anyway? Can you be sued and found guilty for giving Bert (see previous case) incorrect information? Points to Consider Sain v. Cedar Rapids School District Negligent Misrepresentation if you know a student has a need for information and you supply that information knowing they are relying on this information and it is inaccurate. Brown v Compton Unified School District Demonstrates the reluctance of the courts to find educational malpractice CASE 7 Rights for Non custodial Parents Rights for Non-custodial Parents Justina has a history of emotional problems and conflicts with her mother and is often in your office distraught over the latest verbal bout with her mother. A teacher comes to you worried about a seemingly depressed Justina who is not herself. When you talk to Justina you too become worried as she appears withdrawn, distracted and depressed. You suggest to Justina that you need to involve her mother so that she can get some help but she begs you to call her father (the noncustodial parent) instead of her mother. After consultation with your supervisor and much discussion with Justina you honor her wishes and call her father who immediately responds by coming to the school to discuss Justina and picking up copies of her educational records to take to a psychologist whose help he will seek. He says he will contact Justinas mother and the two of them will set up an appointment for Justina. Justinas mother calls you furious that you contacted Justinas father and says she is refusing to allow you or any other school representative to ever again contact the father. Must you abide by the mothers dictate? Can you call the non-custodial parent about a socialemotional issue involving their child? Does Justinas father have the right to be included in parent-teacher conferences? Is the school obligated to notify the custodial parent before contacting the non-custodial parent? Is Justinas

father allowed to take copies of her records? Points to Consider You may contact the parent who is not the primary custodial parent and involve the parent in an academic or emotional issue. Page v. Rotterdam-Mohonasen Central School District Non-custodial parents enjoy all the same rights as custodial parents unless there is a court order expressly stating otherwise. CASE 8 Parents Disagree re: Special Education Placement One parent wants special education placement for their child and one parent disagrees. Points to Consider One parent can sign for special education placement and home schooling.
One parent can decide who will pick up the child from school.

CASE 9 Confidential Testimony You are a school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, school nurse, or mental health therapist. You have been subpoenaed to provide testimony in a child custody case involving a thirteen-year-old you are counseling. You are asked to disclose information that you consider confidential. What do you do? Points to Consider Privilege Communication is a rule of evidence and a creature of statute Confidentiality is every counselors ethical obligation and in many states it is a legal obligation CASE 10 Suicide A fourteen-year-old middle school student reports to you that Sarah, a counselee of your colleague Mr. Barnes, is involved in Satanism and has entered a murder-suicide pact with another student. You and Mr. Barnes call Sarah in and she vehemently denies the allegations and even scoffs at the idea that she would ever be involved in a cult. She convinces you. Do you have any further obligations in this case? Points to Consider -A duty was owed -The duty owed was breached -There was sufficient casual connection between breach and injury -Injuries were suffered Eisel vs. Montgomery County Board of Education Standard of Care -codes -credentialing bodies -school board or agency policies -civil laws, criminal laws -court cases -expert witnesses

CASE 11 Self-Harm You are a counselor in a middle school and you have been seeing Rachel, an eighth grader, in group for about a month. She was cutting herself with a pen knife last year but so far this year, the behavior has stopped. She is in a social skills group to help her with friendship issues. Yesterday she came into your office sobbing about her parents divorce and the war zone that her home has become. She confesses that she has been cutting again to relieve the pain and pressure of the situation. She begs you not to call her parents and promises to use some of the stress-relief exercises you taught her. Are you in danger of a negligence suit by not notifying Rachels parents? Points to Consider -Self-harm is one of the most difficult areas for us with regard to confidentiality and obligations to parents rights. -Revisit the areas we have to consider before we breach confidentiality. -Is the situation a clear case of suicidal ideation or immediate harm? -Does the situation meet the standard of "uplifted Knife"? -Does this case warrant a simple yes or no answer? Cutting is not always an intent to seriously harm oneself. CASE 12 Bulimia & Anorexia You have been told by several students that Vernisha has been heard purging in the bathroom on two different occasions. Vernisha looks healthy to you. What are your ethical responsibilities? You have a young woman in your school who is underweight and makes you think of a child with anorexia. Her face is very gaunt and she looks so fragile you fear she will break. No one has come to you with concerns about this student but you believe there has to be a serious medical problem. What do you do? Points to Consider Revisit the complications of working with minors in schools. CASE 13 Sexually Active Teens You are a school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, or licensed mental health therapist employed by a (local school district, community agency). You are counseling a young woman who is 15 and sexually active. Should you notify her parents that their daughter is sexually active? Points to Consider Revisit the complications of working with minors in schools. CASE 14 Abortion Counseling

A seventeen-year-old woman tells you she is pregnant and asks for your advice as to whether she should have an abortion. What should you do? 14 A The above minor is thirteen-years-old? 14 B (The above scenario, yet add this information...) You are vehemently opposed to abortion. What do you do? Points to Consider Arnold v. Escambia County Board of Education 11th Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the case to trial Principle involved: Constitutional Rights would be violated if it were found that there was coercion. CASE 15 Teachers and HIV+ Students An autistic preschool handicap child entered your school. You accidentally acquire information that this four-year-old child is HIV+. The principal has warned you that you are not to reveal the childs HIV+ status to the teacher. This four-year-old is not potty trained and is a biter. It is inconceivable to you that this information is being withheld from the teacher. You are seriously considering dropping some hints to the teacher such as, This school year you need to be especially careful to use your rubber gloves when cleaning up after your students. Is there an ethical dilemma here? Points to Consider CDC Recommendations for Children with HIV and AIDS - For most infected children the benefits of an unrestricted setting outweigh the risks of acquiring infections and the apparent nonexistent risk of transmission For the infected preschool age child, who lack control of their body secretions or display biting behavior, a more restricted environment is advisable CASE 16 HIV+ Clients You have a seventeen-year-old student who is HIV+. She says she occasionally has unprotected sex with various partners because she fears the rejection she might experience if she shares her HIV+ status with them. What are your ethical responsibilities in this case? She says she has unprotected sex with her boyfriend, Reggie. What are your ethical responsibilities in this case? Your legal responsibilities? Points to Consider Section A.2. Confidentiality The professional school counselor: a. In absence of state legislation expressly forbidding disclosure, considers the ethical responsibility to provide information to an identified third party who, by his/her relationship with the student, is at a high risk of contracting a disease that is commonly known to be communicable and fatal. Disclosure requires satisfaction of all of the following conditions:

-Student identifies partner or the partner is highly identifiable. -Counselor recommends the student notify partner and refrain from further high-risk behavior. -Student refuses. -Counselor informs the student of the intent to notify the partner. -Counselor seeks legal consultation as to the legalities of informing the partner. CASE 17 Student-on-Student Sexual Harassment Until sixth-grade, Sarah was a conscientious student consistently given high marks by teachers in her work ethic. However, the sixth-grade brought a marked change in grades and attitude for Sarah; she was a victim of sexual harassment. Sarah was unusually well developed for a 12-year-old and found herself the target of jokes and sexual comments about her physical development. Most recently, Sarah found herself trapped against her locker by a group of boys who made lewd remarks to her and wouldnt let her pass. Sarah shared her situation with her friends who repeatedly advised her to ignore the perpetrators and not to make a big deal about it. To complicate matters, Sarah told her counselor that she did not want her revelations repeated to anyone, especially her parents, They always tell me I am too loud and forward with boys and that my clothes are too tight. If they learn about what these boys have been doing, they will just tell me I told you so or you asked for it by dressing like that. Perplexed by the unwelcome attention and how to respond to it, Sarah hinted that she may in some way be responsible for bringing the harassment on herself and she wished she could just learn to ignore the attention or develop a sense of humor about it all. Student service workers responsibilities. Student service workers are needed to develop and implement intervention strategies and support students who are victims of sexual harassment but difficult, legitimate legal and ethical questions must be considered. Sarah explained to her counselor that her parents have always taken the position that she was loose and interpreted all contact with boys as proof that their daughter was wild and boy crazy and bound to end up pregnant. Sarah said it was impossible for her to involve her parents in her problems with harassment and pleaded with her counselor not to contact them or to tell the administration who might in turn contact her parents. Below are five major issues in the form of questions that Sarahs school counselor may face. The questions are designed to examine the complexities of protecting students confidentiality while adhering to the OCR guidelines of Title IX legislation. If Sarah reports sexual harassment to her school counselor and requests confidentiality, what is the counselors legal and ethical obligation toward Sarah and to potential victims? Must Sarah be identified by name in a report of the harassment?

What if Sarah continued to insist on confidentiality with the full knowledge that without using her identity the investigation would be severely hindered? What happens now that the boy accused of running his hand up Sarahs blouse, vehemently denies the accusation and his parents demand full disclosure of the incident to include the name of the accused so that they may answer the charges having all the facts? Is this twelve-year-old able to make decisions surrounding the sexual harassment in isolation of her parents? What is the counselors legal and ethical responsibility to Sarahs parents? Points to Consider schools liable in serious offenses, severe and pervasive harassment that denies equal access to education liable only when they are deliberately indifferent to sexual harassment of which they have knowledge (severe and deprives access to the educational benefits) May 24, 1999, Davis vs. Monroe County Public Schools - Supreme Court Case ruled that public schools can be sued and forced to pay damages to stop sexual harassment by students. Justice Sandra Day OConnor, writing for the majority, emphasized that school districts should be held responsible only for misconduct that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it makes it impossible for students to receive the benefits of their public education. CASE 18 Harassment of Gay and Lesbian Students You are a student service worker at a school for the performing arts. Males who major in dance or theater are often labeled gay. You know this to be true because students occasionally complain to you. You have conducted interviews and surveys about school climate and included questions about harassment of gays lesbians and males who choose theater and dance. You discover a fairly widespread problem. What are your obligations in this situation? A fifteen-year-old, openly gay student asked you to help stop the daily harassment he has been enduring from other students. He tells you he receives approximately 25 anti-gay remarks a day and at least twice in the last five months he has been kicked and punched while on school grounds. He tells you the harassment is especially bad in Mrs. Smiths class and that she has witnesses other students calling him faggot but has never reacted in any way. He also tells you he is willing to give the names of the students who have verbally and physically attacked him. What are your obligations in this situation?

Points to Consider Wisconsin, 1996: Jamie Nabozny was awarded $962,000, for injuries he suffered while at Ashland Middle School and Ashland High School. This was the first time a federal jury found school officials responsible for anti-gay harassment committed by students. In addition to verbally abusing him, Nabozny said other students kicked him, urinated on him, and in one incident, pretended to rape him. One attack left him in need of surgery. Illinois, 1996: The Riverside-Brookfield School District settled a lawsuit filed by the family of a gay student who alleged that school officials did not act on his complaints of abuse from other students. Washington, D.C., 1997: The U.S. Department of Education issued guidelines spelling out that gay and lesbian students are covered by federal prohibitions against sexual harassment. Arkansas, 1998: Following a complaint from a gay student who said he endured two years of abuse from other students, the Fayetteville School District signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education to hold sexual harassment workshops for teachers and students, take disciplinary action against any student reported and confirmed to have engaged in sexually harassing behavior. CASE 19 Known Sexual Abuse You coach tennis in the high school where you are a counselor. You have heard rumors that the volleyball coach is having an affair with one of her students. After an unscheduled tennis practice with two of your students you enter the coaches office and hear the frantic rustling of clothes and hushed whispers. After five minutes this coach and student emerge from behind closed doors and she mumbles something about looking for equipment and they hurry out. You are certain that your unscheduled appearance in the coaches office has interrupted a sexual encounter. You confront this coach who does not deny the allegation. Now what do you do? Points to Consider Absolute Duty to Report Certainly is not required- suspicion is enough to establish a duty Duty is not discretionary it is inextricably clear Report within 48 hours Good faith reporting is assumed If a record is required by the school, the name of the reporter can be deleted No statute of limitations on Child Abuse Reporting CASE 20 Liability in Child Abuse Reporting You reported a case of child abuse brought to your attention by a teacher. The teacher noticed a horrible slash mark across the back of a childs neck and upon inspection the teacher saw that it extended way down the childs back. The mark closely resembled a belt mark. You report the incident to the Child Abuse Registry. The subsequent investigation by Protective Child Services revealed a fall from a piece of playground equipment witnessed by

the childs soccer coach and team members. The parents deducted that the report came from the school and specifically from you. The parents are livid and are threatening to sue you. Can you be sued? Points to Consider Doe v. Rains Independent School District (Texas) Siepert was having a sexual relationship with a student and White, another teacher, knew but waited several months to report it. Florida Statutes (as did Texas statute) imposes an affirmative duty on teachers to report sexual abuse of students. Mental health professionals must report within 48 hours. CASE 21 Child Abuse Records You have reported a case of child abuse brought to your attention by a teacher. According to your school board policy, you create a record of this report? Does this record become part of the students record? Do parents have access to this information? Must the name of the reporting parties be on this record? Points to Consider FERPA provides for child abuse records to remain outside the definition of education record. CASE 22 Dual Relationships You are seeing Erin, an eleven- year-old, in a (private counseling setting, agency, school). This childs mother (or father for male counselors) died one year ago and you have been seeing this child for this issue. Her loss is affecting her academic achievement. Erins grades plummeted following the death of her mother and she lost her enthusiasm for playing soccer. You have a very good relationship with this child and you are making progress. The last conversation you had with her father (mother for males) turned flirtatious and you accepted a date. Now you are worried you are engaged in an ethical dilemma by accepting this date. Are you involved in an ethical dilemma? Points to Consider The question is, Whose needs are being met? CASE 23 Group Work You are working with a young woman who reveals she is a victim of incest that ended five years ago. You are already working with another young woman who is dealing with the same issue. After several months you decide it would be in the best interest of these two girls to bring them together. You also include 2 other young women who are incest victims, have been through years of counseling and are progressing well. You bring these four students together for weekly group counseling. You spend a great deal of time on the issue of confidentiality at the first meeting. You are comfortable that the students all understand the imperative to keep all revelations confidential. Is

there an ethical dilemma here? Points to Consider ASCA Ethical Standard A.6.c. establishes clear expectations in the group setting and clearly states that confidentiality in group counseling cannot be guaranteed. Given the developmental and chronological ages of minors in schools, the counselor recognizes the tenuous nature of confidentiality for minors renders some topics inappropriate for group work in a school setting. We must continually ask ourselves, will the potential emotional cost to students and their families be worth any gains that we may accomplish? Competence Developmental and chronological levels of students Setting CASE 24 Outspoken Regarding Employers Policies You are a school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, or licensed mental health therapist employed by a (local school district, community agency). You are concerned about a policy which your (school district, agency) has established for the reporting of students who express suicidal ideation. You think the policy is an invasion of the confidentiality of your clients and eliminates counselor judgment. You write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. Is there a legal dilemma here? Ethical issue? Instead of writing a letter to the editor you just ignore the policy. Is there a legal dilemma here? Ethical issue? Points to Consider Portray the fraternity of education. Ethical behavior requires that you work within the bounds of appropriate behavior to change policy and procedures. CASE 25 Personal Responsibility You are a school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, or licensed mental health therapist employed by a (local school district, community agency). You are a very reliable employee and have a solid reputation as an effective mental health professional. Your live-in boyfriend parties hearty on weekends and along with a group of friends, you usually end up consuming large quantities of alcohol. Several times the police have come when the neighbors have complained about the cars and the loud music. Lately, the parties have been getting longer and wilder. Does your behavior pose an ethical question? Points to Consider
You are held to a higher standard of conduct.

CASE 26 Students and Constitutional Rights


You are a high school counselor and your principal requires that all the student service workers help out at graduation. Your school has a tradition of a very formal, respectful, solemn graduation ceremony. A very strict dress and grooming code for graduation is enforced. Personally, you think the ceremony is stifled and pleases the adults more than the students but you remain silent and cooperative as it is a very beautiful ceremony. One of your students shows up for graduation with purple hair and the principal decides she cannot participate in the graduation ceremony. You tell the principal that you feel this students constitutional rights are being violated. Have you given the principal correct information? Points to Consider Students constitutional rights are not discarded at the schoolhouse door. However, students do not enjoy the same constitutional rights as adults. Dress, speech, and writing can be curtailed or prohibited if it threatens to disrupt the educational process. CASE 27 Defamation by School Officials? J.D. was not promoted to the ninth grade because he did nothing according to his teacher in eighth grade. His parents say he should be promoted because his failure to do work was the result of his handicap (he has been diagnosed as mildly ADHD). A joint conference is held with the parents, principal; teacher, and you, a student service worker in attendance. During the course of the conference you and explain to the parents of J.D. that he is lazy and interested only in his social life. J.D.s parents bring suit against you for defamation. How will the court rule? Points to Consider Qualified privilege. CASE 28 Letters of Recommendation Jergins is applying to a college where letter of recommendation are a critical part of the admissions process. Your letter will be especially important as Jergins freshman year was dismal academically. Jergin confided in you that he was a member of a gang until his freshman year but he decided after a friend was killed that he wanted more out of life and he changed schools and started anew. Jergin has been a solid student since his sophomore year and is not the same person who was involved with gangs. You are considering explaining all this in your letter of recommendation in hopes that he will only be judged based on what he has done since his sophomore year. Legally and/or ethically can you include this information in a letter of recommendation? Points to Consider Legally, school counselors can include anything in a letter that is common knowledge and observable. Best practice to leave out sensitive, confidential information unless you secure student and parental permission to relay questionable information.

CASE 29 Ethics of Advocacy You are a high school counselor in an urban school with a diverse student population. One of your seniors, Sidney Ferguson, comes to you and requests your help with her application to Harvard. Sidney has an 86.6 average, is on the yearbook staff, has spent two years on the track team, and is enrolled in four Advanced Placement classes. Sidney says, I know Harvard may not be a sure thing but I have to try. Your frustration rises as once again you are forced to look a student in the eye and explain that it is the practice and policy of the schools administration that only the top 5 students in each graduating class can apply to an Ivy League school. How do your professions ethical codes support you to advocate for a change of policy? Points to Consider Each person has the right to understand the full magnitude and meaning of his/her educational choices and how those choices will affect future opportunities (ASCA Preamble) The professional school counselor advocates for counseling plans supporting students right to choose from the wide array of options when they leave secondary education. Such plans will be regularly reviewed to update students regarding critical information they need to make informed decisions. (A.3.b). CASE 30 Criminal Activity A sixteen-year-old student discusses with you her compulsive shoplifting activity. She gives you the dates, times, and places of her past shoplifting. Do you have a duty to report this to the authorities? To her parents? A sixteen-year-old student discusses with you a plan to destroy a bulldozer which will be used to clear environmentally sensitive land. Are you obligated to report this information to the police? To his/her parents? Points to Consider School counselors do not have a legal duty to report a crime that has already been committed. However, the fact that we are working with a minor in a setting called schools means that we pay close attention to parental rights to be involved in their childrens lives especially in value laden issues. CASE 31 Consultant and Confidentiality School climate is especially glum at your school. You are asked to try to address the situation which you believe involves discontent over the administration among other issues. You agree to conduct small focus groups with all grade levels to try to determine causes. You conduct the focus groups and analyze the feedback into five categories that seem to capture the concerns. One of the categories is administration. Issues under administration concern areas such as inconsistency, showing favoritism, and

the perception that the principal is prejudice. This last complaint came from only two people whose judgment you believe is suspect. When making your report to the principal, she asks you for the names of the people who believe she is prejudice. What is your response? Does informed consent play a role in this ethical dilemma? Points to Consider Duty to Care CASE 32Consultant to Teachers As a student service worker you know a great deal about different teachers classroom management effectiveness. You are acutely aware that one teacher in your school has chronic behavior problems no matter what students are assigned to her. You believe students are suffering academically and emotionally under her. From your observations, the administration of the school seems unaware. What is your responsibility in this situation? Points to Consider -unprofessional to set yourself up as an informant. -advocacy role for students requires that we act in a way that will help benefit the students who are suffering and not getting the best education possible -share potential solutions with the principal without compromising the confidentiality of your sources or damaging the teacher. The goal is to try to help the teacher and, ultimately, the students. -building trust between you and the principal, so you know that he or she respects your confidences and will use the information to help the teacher make strides toward a better academic and social environment. CASE 33 Parental Permission for Individual Counseling You do not obtain written or oral parental permission for individual counseling. Are you acting legally? Ethically? Points to Consider Providing written information about the school counseling program is essential to the ethical and legal functioning of the professional school counselor. A full understanding of the school counseling process tends to increase the sense of trust between professional school counselors, students, and parents. Professional school counselors obtain parental consent if required by local law or policy (ASCA Position Statement, 2004). Hatch Amendment Separation of Church and State Group Debate: If time permits take a stand on the following issues and enter into a debate. Title: Reporting Cheating to the College

A student received from you a strong letter of recommendation regarding his character, service, leadership, and academic record. Mark, the student, was accepted by his first choice college who subsequently received Marks midterm report showing all As. In April it was discovered that Mark and two others had exchanged papers during a test during the first semester of Trigonometry. All three students were disciplined and once the zero grade was factored into the final grade, the result was a drop by two letters to a C. Are you under any legal or ethical obligation to report the cheating incident to the college? Will you be breaching any legal or ethical obligation if you do report the cheating incident to the college? How would you handle this ethical dilemma? Debate the Ethics: Group I- those who believe they would call the college and report the grade drop and/or the cheating incident Group II- those who would not call the college Group III- those who are undecided The legalities. To call the school to notify them that there has been a grade change probably does not violate FERPA. However, in a 2002 Florida court case, it was agreed that states could enhance FERPA guidelines, so encourage audience members to read their state statutes on educational records. If possible bring the states statutes on educational records. The state may have made the determination that limited information will be given to third parties. Ski Harrison, an attorney for a California School District, responded that once the mid-year report is completed by the counselor, there is no obligation to call or contact the university to inform them of changes in the status of students who have applied to their schools. If the school were to contact the counselor with questions, of course the counselor would report the truth. If this had happened before the mid-year report came out, Ski suggested that the counselor contact the student and let him know that there are certain ethics /discipline questions on the high school report and that the counselor will be completing it honestly. As advocates of the students, we just want to remind them of both our obligation, and theirs, to be honest. Ski said if the grade is lowered because of the cheating incident, that the counselor should send the corrected transcript with no explanation. If the college calls for an explanation, the counselor can tell him about the incident (interview of Ski by Carol Lerman, District Guidance Specialist, Saddleback Valley Unified School District, 2003). If Time permits: Consultant to Teachers under Adverse Circumstances As a form of punishment, Mrs. Johnson recently had a child use his nose to hold a quarter against the wall. Each time the quarter fell she added time to the punishment. The parents were furious. Subsequently, the principal has spent many hours dealing with central administration, the parents and

teacher to find a resolution. One of the solutions to the problem is that he has asked you to work with Mrs. Johnson on her classroom management skills. Think about your planning meeting with the principal. What do you need to ask of the principal?