Ethics and Law for School Psychologists

By Susan Jacob; Dawn M. Decker et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
PRIVACY, INFORMED CONSENT,
CONFIDENTIALITY, AND
RECORD KEEPING

This chapter explores four important ethical-legal concepts in the delivery of psychological services in the schools: privacy, informed consent, confidentiality, and privileged communication. School record keeping also is discussed. Privacy, informed consent, confidentiality, and record keeping are discussed together in this chapter because they are ethical-legal concerns that cut across all of the school psychologist’s many roles. The chapter closes with a discussion of parent access to test protocols and digital record keeping and communication.


PRIVACY

The term privacy meshes together complicated concepts from case law, statutory law, and professional ethics. We first briefly explore privacy as a legal concept and then discuss respect for privacy as an ethical mandate.


Privacy and Law

The privacy rights of students and their parents have been addressed in case and statutory law. However, there are many areas in which the legal boundaries of student privacy are not clearly delineated. Furthermore, some tension between the school’s perceived need for personal information about students and the right of students and parents to be free from unnecessary intrusions on their privacy is likely inevitable, even as additional privacy guidelines become available.


Case Law

As noted in Chapter 2, the Constitution does not mention “right to privacy” explicitly. However, a number of privacy rights have been carved out of the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments.

Court decisions regarding the rights of students have recognized the need to balance the interest of the state (school) in fulfilling its duty to educate children, maintain order, and ensure student safety against the personal freedoms and rights generally afforded

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