|Britton Deerfield School District|
2411 - GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING
Both of these functions play a significant role in the operation of the District and in the lives of the students. These guidelines are designed to ensure proper balance between two (2) important and seemingly conflicting needs of a school. The first is the need for each student to feel there is someone who cares about him/her and to whom s/he can go to talk about a problem or concern. The second need is to protect the student and possibly the parents and also the staff member. That is, protect the student from the consequences of advice given by or action taken by a member of the staff or outside resource person who does not have the proper qualification to counsel in the given situation and the staff member from consequences arising out of noncompliance with Federal and State laws regarding parental/student rights and confidentiality.
Purpose of the Services
The purpose of the guidance service is to help students:
|A.||select and participate in academic and other school activities that will best ensure achievement of defined educational and personal goals that are commensurate with their abilities;|
|B.||identify, analyze, and make contact with those agencies and institutions that can provide follow-on programs or services related to the student's goals and plans for the future.|
The purpose of the counseling service is to help students:
|A.||resolve problems and overcome obstacles that are preventing them from achieving their educational and personal goals;|
|B.||maintain productive relationships with other students, staff members, parents, and other adults, and/or organizations and institutions in their community.|
Each counselor is to guide students in course selection and career planning in such a way that there is no discrimination or bias nor make any predictions of success or failure based on a student's race, color, national origin, gender, age, or disability. If any materials or resource people are used to recruit students to a particular career path or vocational choice, the counselors and teachers must be sure that such materials and/or presentations do not indicate or imply racial, gender, or disability stereotypes. Efforts should be made, when applicable to a program, to use resource people who represent the special populations contained within the body of students being recruited for or guided toward the program or career path.
Since both of these services depend for their effectiveness on close interpersonal interaction with students, no staff member other than endorsed counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, or registered nurses are to conduct programs or activities, that are not curriculum related, in which confidentiality of information is involved or shared. Other members of the professional staff as well as those on the support staff should be as helpful and caring to the students as possible, and, when they become aware that a student needs either guidance or counseling help, take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the student has made productive contact with members of the guidance and counseling staff.
All members of a school's professional staff are encouraged to be "good listeners". That is:
|A.||be sensitive to signs the student has something s/he needs to talk about;|
|B.||listen to and try to understand what the student is saying and let the student know s/he is being listened to;|
|C.||do not interrupt with judgmental statements, imposed statements about how the student feels, or advice;|
|D.||do not repeat to others what the student has said without the student's permission unless required to do so to protect the health and/or safety of the student and/or others.|
Very frequently, a caring listener is all the student needs.
It is incumbent on all staff members to be knowledgeable about the laws regarding confidentiality of information, whether it be part of a student's record or of a communication with a student. AG 8330 describes in detail the requirements concerning information in student school records.
With regard to confidentiality of communications, parents have an expectation of privacy with regard to their family relationships, which may be superseded, however, in certain situations where the rights of a minor student would prevail such as one-on-one counseling situations with a licensed counselor. Upon receiving confidential information regarding a student or his/her family's personal relationship, a staff member who is not a licensed professional counselor or who has a limited counseling license should consult with the building principal regarding disclosure. This will be important not only in situations such as group counseling sessions, health classes, crisis intervention activities, and the like, but also in ad hoc situations when a student shares such information with the staff member. (See Policy 3213.) Information shared with a licensed counselor is to be considered privileged information and not to be shared with anyone unless the counselor believes the student's health and/or well-being is in jeopardy. In such cases, the counselor should contact the appropriate agency and consult with the principal prior to making any contact with the student's parents. Prior to establishing an individual counseling program with a student, the counselor should have the parent read and sign the Informed Consent Form 2411 F1.
In determining whether or not to disclose the information, the principal must consider:
|A.||the student's need to maintain confidentiality in order to obtain and benefit from assistance balanced against the parents' rights to the care, custody, and control of their child;|
|B.||if there is a compelling need involving the immediate health, safety, or welfare of the student or others.|
In balancing these concerns, the principal must also consider:
|A.||the nature of the relationship between the student and his/her parents;|
|B.||potential benefits and risks of maintaining confidentiality versus disclosure;|
|C.||the best interests of the student.|
Any materials that a member of the guidance and counseling staff wishes to use with students, on either an individual or group basis, which have not been approved previously by the District are to be reviewed in accordance with the procedure described in AG 2521A and a completed copy of Form 2521 F1 filed in the principal's office.
Referrals to Outside Agencies
The District shall maintain, at the Superintendent's office and at each principal's office, a list of outside resource people and organizations.
Rather than recommend a single resource, staff members are advised to review the alternatives with the student and his/her parents and let them decide.
© Neola 2002