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February10

Opponents prevail over counselor privilege bill

There will be no new provision to school counselor privilege as members of the House Education Committee voted 9-5 to defer House Bill 1077 to the 41st day. A decision on the bill had been delayed since having its initial hearing in January.

 

House Bill 1077 would have required parental approval to waive a school counselor privilege for a student under age sixteen.

 

“We’re going to have it so a child is going to make that decision (to not involve their parents),” Rep. Timothy Johns said. “Is that child going to be competent to make that decision?”

 

HB 1077’s sponsor Rep. Mike Stevens noted at the bill’s initial hearing it would provide parents a right they currently do not have in law and enhance legal protection for school districts and counselors. The merits of the bill were lauded by all at the initial hearing, but concerns were shared by legislators and testifiers over the potential perception of that trust between student and counselor would be violated.

 

“(Students) trust their school counselor,” Ashely Seeklander, a counselor in the Groton School District testifying on behalf of herself, said.

 

Seeklander said the bill “creates a conflict” with the counselor code of ethics and that “no student” would come in to her office if the information shared with her must be shared with the student’s parents.

 

An amendment introduced that would have allowed a counselor or school psychologist to object to information being shared with parents and have the information reviewed by a judge for final decision was defeated.

 

Rep. Steven McCleerey said he had two parents email him about the bill and they were split on what should be done, which lead him to vote against the bill.

 

“This is strictly a trust issue,” Rep. McCleerey said of the relationship between student and counselor.

 

ASBSD was monitoring the bill.

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