Ethics and Law for School Psychologists

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

Chapter 9
INDIRECT SERVICES II: SPECIAL
TOPICS IN SYSTEMS-LEVEL
CONSULTATION

As used in this chapter, the term systems-level consultation refers to cooperative problem solving between the school psychologist (consultant) and consultee(s) (principal, district-level administrators) with a goal of improving school policies, practices, and programs so as to better serve the mental health and educational needs of all students. In 1991, Prilleltensky foreshadowed contemporary thinking when he suggested that “school psychologists have a moral responsibility to promote not only the well-being of their clients but also of the environments where their clients function and develop” (p. 2000). The code of ethics of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP, 2010b) states:

School psychologists use their professional expertise to promote changes in schools and
community service systems that will benefit children and other clients. They advocate for
school policies and practices that are in the best interests of children and that respect and
protect the legal rights of students and parents. (NASP-PPE IV.1.2)

To be competent to provide systems-level consultation, school psychologists need expertise in understanding human behavior from a social systems perspective, well-developed skills in collaborative planning and problem-solving procedures, and knowledge of principles for organizational change (Castillo & Curtis, 2014; also NASP-PPE IV.1.1).

The first portion of the chapter summarizes the ethical and legal issues associated with three special topics in school consultation: large-scale assessment programs, including high-stakes achievement testing, minimum competency testing, and screening to identify students at risk of harm to self or others. Next, legal issues associated with the following instructional practices are addressed: grade retention, student ability grouping and disproportionality, and programs for English language learners (ELL) and gifted and talented students. Then an overview of law and ethical issues pertinent to school discipline is provided, including discussions of corporal punishment, suspension and expulsion, and school-wide positive behavior support systems. Finally, recent court decisions and Office for Civil Rights (OCR) policies pertinent to discrimination against, and harassment of, students protected by civil rights law are addressed, ending with a brief summary of law, ethics, and bullying. These topics were chosen because they are issues of long-standing or contemporary concern.

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