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Ethics and law for school psychologists

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  1. Ethics and law for school psychologists Chapter 7

  2. Chapter 7 Ethical and Legal Issues in School-based Interventions

  3. Say it again… say it again • “It is ethically and legally permissible to “provide school-based consultation services regarding a child or adolescent to a student assistance team or teacher without informed parent consent as long as the resulting interventions are under the authority of the teacher and within the score of typical classroom intervention.”” • “Under IDEA, parents have a right to be notified if RTI is being implemented as part of the process to determine if their child has a disability.”

  4. Tiered School Psych Services • Tier I • Assist in developing universal screening • Tier II • Provide consultation services • Monitor effectiveness of intervention • Tier III • Therapeutic interventions (e.g., counseling as related service) • SPED diagnostic and placement decision making • Collaborative/ Consultative services to ensure care requirements met

  5. Pre-referral Teams • Go by many names (CST, SST, BBSST, SIPT, etc.) • Helpful in decreasing the overrepresentation of diverse students in SPED • IDEA 2004: Up to 15% of federal SPED funds can be used for early intervention services (e.g., prereferral) • May (or may not) have morphed into the RTI team • A referral for evaluation MUST be made as soon as a disability is suspected (district cannot mandate a certain amount of time in SST prior to referral)

  6. Intervention Selection • Selected based off of a “problem solving process” • Research-based • Preference for those provided in a peer-reviewed journal. • May need to be tailored to fit the child (children do not live in a laboratory). • Monitoring tools • Related directly to the intervention • Psychometrically sound • Linguistically appropriate • Contractual • Every step should be written down (clear plan) • Data should be documented

  7. Behavioral Analysis • Goals • Cannot be “dead man behaviors” • Must enhance the well-being of the child • Intervention • Based on a functional analysis of behavior • A (antecedent), B (behavior), C (consequence) • Research-based • First choose POSITIVE interventions (rewards) over negative ones (punishments) • Cannot deprive children of basic rights: water, food, shelter, clothes, exercise, and sleep

  8. Time-out • Preferable to expulsion • Must be in a safe, monitored environment • Must be able to leave for appropriate reasons (e.g., go to the bathroom). • Must not overly interfere with academic time. • Must not be grossly out of proportion for offense. • Must be wary of time-out being a reward • Child is escaping a school bully • Child is escaping classwork or teacher • Child gets special rewards (e.g., use of teacher bathroom, extra attention from office staff, etc.)

  9. Counseling Service • “Except for urgent situations or self-referrals by a minor student, school psychologists seek parental consent (or the consent of an adult student) prior to establishing a school-psychologist client relationship. To provide ongoing individual or group counseling or other nonclassroom therapeutic intervention.” • “When a student who is a minor self-refers for assistance, it is ethically permissible to provide psychological assistance without parent notice or consent for one or several meetings to establish the nature and degree of the need for services to mature minors without parent consent (where allowed by state law and district policy). However, if the student is not old enough to receive school psychological assistance independent of parent consent, the school psychologist obtains parent consent to provide continuing assistance to the student beyond the preliminary meetings or refers the student to an alternate source.”

  10. Alternate source? • Community-based service providers DON’T NEED parental permission for treatment in the following instances • Mental Illness • Drug and alcohol abuse • Pregnancy management • STD treatment

  11. Child Abuse • “Physical or mental injury, sexual abuse or exploitation, negligent treatment, or maltreatment of a child by a person who is responsible for the child’s welfare, under circumstances which indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or threatened” • Estimated only 40% of all abuse is reported. • School psychologist = mandated reporter • Duty to warn supersedes any FERPA or confidentiality issues. • Reasonable suspicion (not certainty) • Immunity from civil prosecution for contacting child protection (good faith requirement for immunity) • Possible jail time and hefty fines for NOT reporting

  12. Threat to Self • School Psychologists should be members of suicide prevention and crisis teams • Use the following questions: • Is there a preoccupation with death? • Does the student have a suicide plan? • Has the student made previous suicide attempts? • Is the student involved with drugs? • Has there been a precipitating event? • Why does the student want to die? • Parents should be contacted for all possible cases • Referrals may be needed to community resources

  13. Threat to Others • School Psychologists should be members of threat assessment and crisis teams • 8% of high school students stated that they were harmed with a weapon while at school. • Threat Assessment (school-wide and individual) • Use the following questions: • Are there plans for violence? • Does the child show interest in violence, acts of violence by others, or weapons? • Is the child capable of carrying out the plan? • Was there recent loss or loss of status? • Are there feelings of desperation or despair? • Are there systems factors that might increase violence (home or school) • Has the child demonstrated previous behavior issues (menacing, harassing, or stalking)?

  14. Criminal Actions • Failure to report a felony is not a crime (but taking steps towards concealing one is). • Malpractice suits can be filed if you disclose criminal actions (that are not involved with child abuse or threat to self or others) without permission.

  15. Substance Abuse • School Psychologists should be members of substance abuse treatment and crisis teams • NOT in drug searches, though. • 66% of students report that they have tried alcohol that year (by senior year of school). • Drug and alcohol treatment IS CONFIDENTIAL to parent; drug use described during therapy is not [fine line here]

  16. Psychopharmacology in the Schools • It is important that school psychologists be aware of side effects of psychotropic (and other) types of legal drugs that children are taking. • No pressure can be placed on parent/ child to seek drug treatment. • Only medical personnel can prescribe drugs (in most states). Be wary of the fine line between discussing drug treatment and recommending it.

  17. Class Discussion • Choose one of the two (or both) Vignettes on Page 188 (numbers 2 and 3) to discuss in the discussion board. • Both concern student-on-student violence • Think about • Responsibility of the school psychologist • Who (if anyone) to contact • Confidentiality issues • Legal/ethical concerns