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The transformed school counselor chapter 6

Legal and Ethical Issues for
School Counselors
The Transformed School Counselor
Chapter 6

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Professional Ethics


All school counselors are governed by the American
School Counselor Association (ASCA) code of
ethics.



Ethics are the customs, mores, standards, and
accepted practice of a profession.




Ethical codes are an attempt by the profession to
standardize professional practice for the purpose of
protecting students and school counselors as well.



School counselors have a responsibility to know the
codes and what constitutes ethical practice for the
reasonably competent professional.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Ethics and the Law


Laws are the minimum standard that society will
tolerate.



The ethics of the profession help school
counselors aspire to exceptional care but the
courts do not demand this level.



Standard of care is the benchmark the courts use
to determine the actions of the reasonably
competent professional school counselor.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


An Ethical
Decision-Making Model

1. Identify the emotional reaction.
2. Examine the facts.
3. Review the relevant ethical guidelines.
4. Consider parental rights.
5. Consider the setting.
6. Consider the chronological and developmental
levels.
7. Identify the nature and dimensions of the
problem.
©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Ethical Decision Making continued…
8. Consult.
9. Consider possible and probable courses of action.
10. Examine the good and bad consequences of
various decisions.
11. Implement your course of action.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


The Complications of
Confidentiality in the Context
of Schools




School counselors must consider not only
student rights but parental rights when
approaching the issue of whether to protect or
breach confidentiality.
Informed consent is given at the beginning of
the counseling session so that the counselee
will know the purposes, goals, techniques, and
rules of procedure of the anticipated
counseling.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


The Complications of Confidentiality
in the Context of Schools continued…
Student Rights and Responsibilities
Although students have an ethical right
to confidentiality, the legal right belongs
to their parents.
 Students must avoid unlawful behavior
while on school grounds or under school
supervision.


©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


The Complications of Confidentiality
in the Context of Schools continued…
Parent Rights and Responsibilities


Parents have the right to be the guiding voice in their children’s lives
in value-laden decisions.



The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal
law that governs the disclosure of information from educational
records and gives parents certain rights that include the rights to:




Talk to teachers and school administrators about their children
See their children’s educational records
Decide if their children will participate in a questionnaire,
survey, or examination regarding a parent’s personal beliefs,
sex practices, family life, or religion

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Community Standards
and School Board Policy


School counselors have to understand the
culture and the written and unwritten
standards of the community, school district,
and individual work site.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Confidentiality and Privileged
Communication


Most states do not grant counselors full privilege
communication, which makes counselors
incapable of testifying about information related
in confidence.



A few states grant partial privilege, which protects
a counselor’s students by securing their
confidences except when the counselor is required
by a court of law to breach those confidences.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Ethics and Group Work in
Schools


Group work complicates confidentiality
rights specifically because students may
hear confidences about the private worlds
of other students and their families.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Confidentiality and Informed
Consent


The ASCA codes tell us that confidentiality
cannot be guaranteed in a group.



In a group setting, counselors stress the
importance of confidentiality, yet clearly state that
confidentiality in group counseling cannot be
guaranteed.



Competence, voluntary participation and
knowledge are necessary elements if students are
to give informed consent to participate in a group.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Appropriate Topics
for Group Work in Schools
 There are some topics that cannot be

addressed adequately in schools, such
as eating disorders.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Adequacy of Counselor Skills
for Group Work


It is unrealistic to expect school counselors to
have all the skills and knowledge necessary for
group work if the participating students face
serious clinical issues.



Resources can be managed to incorporate mental
health support into schools or to get students help
outside of schools.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Counselors’ Case Notes or Sole
Possession Records


Barring a court order to the contrary, under FERPA both
parents have equal access to education records.



One of the five categories exempt from the definition of
education records under FERPA is “sole possession
records.”



To be considered sole possession records, case notes must
meet three requirements:
 Private, created solely by the individual possessing it
 Created to be a personal memory aid
 Is not shared or accessible to any other person except
the individual’s temporary substitute

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Rights for Non-Custodial
Parents


The court found that school districts have a
duty to act in the best educational interest of
the children, which means providing
educational information to both parents,
even if they do not have legal custody.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Negligence and Malpractice
Involving Suicide


Four elements must be present for negligence
 A duty must be owed by one person to another
 The duty that was owed was breached
 There must be sufficient legal causal connection
between the breach of duty and the injury
 Injury or damages must be present



The Code of Ethics for the ASCA permits disclosure of
information when there may be clear and imminent danger
to the student or others.



The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a school
district lawfully can punish a counselor for failing to report
a student’s suicidal tendencies.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Letters of recommendation
Some of the ethical considerations involving letters
of recommendation are:
Letters and confidential, sensitive information
 It is best practice to leave out sensitive, confidential
information or to get student and parental consent to
include such information
 Writing letters for problem students
 If a counselor feels that he/she cannot write a strong
letter it is best to send the message to the student that
your letter would not be helpful
 Supporting weak students
 Counselors can focus on a student’s stronger assets
such as life skills when a standard letter will not help
the arestudent
©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials
designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of


copyright laws.


Negligence in Academic
Advising


The court explains that just as accountants and
lawyers stand to gain financially from giving
accurate advice, so do school counselors.



Therefore, negligent misrepresentation can be
applied to the school counselor-student
relationship when erroneous advice means a
student loses a lucrative scholarship.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Negligence in Abortion
Counseling


Counselors can assist students with these valueladen issues if they are competent to give such
advice and if they proceed in a professional
manner.



School counselors can discuss options with their
students, but they must refrain from coercion and
imposing their values on a minor student in order
to avoid liability for negligence.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Sexual Harassment


School counselors are required by law to report to
school officials any sexual harassment.



A student’s request for confidentiality should be
respected even if this hinders the investigation.

©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.


Child Abuse Reporting
School Counselors are ethically, morally,
and legally responsible to report suspected
child abuse.
 Consider the fine line between “bad
parenting” and abuse, but don’t be afraid to
report in order to protect the child.


©2012 Cengage Learning. These materials are designed for classroom use and can be used for educational purposes only. Reproduction for commercial use is in violation of
copyright laws.



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