SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 34
February 9, 1996
|FROM:||William C. Bosher, Jr.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
|SUBJECT:||Board Action on Guidance Regulations|
On January 18, the Board of Education adopted the enclosed Regulations Regarding School Guidance and Counseling Programs in the Public Schools of Virginia. These regulations require local school boards to adopt policy governing guidance and counseling programs by July 1, 1996, and also set forth the elements that local policy must address. The regulations are to be published in the Virginia Register on February 19. They will become effective 30 days after the publication date. The Virginia School Boards Association has begun development of model guidelines that may be of assistance to you as you prepare local policy. Questions about this matter may be referred to H. Douglas Cox, Director, Office of Special Education and Student Services at (804) 225-2402. WCBJr/cp Attachment: This memo and its attachment will be sent to the Superintendent's Office REGULATIONS REGARDING SCHOOL GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING PROGRAMS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF VIRGINIA 1. Pursuant to the Standards of Quality, each school shall make reasonably available, with available resources, to all students the following guidance and counseling services; a) Academic guidance, which assists students and their parents to acquire knowledge of the curricula choices available to students, to plan a program of studies, to arrange and interpret academic testing, and to seek post-secondary academic opportunities; b) Career guidance, which helps students to acquire information and plan action about work, jobs, apprenticeships, and post-secondary educational and career opportunities; c) Personal/social counseling, which assists a student to develop an understanding of themselves, the rights and needs of others, how to resolve conflict and to define individual goals, reflecting their interests, abilities and aptitudes. Such counseling may be provided either (i) in groups (e.g., all fifth graders) in which generic issues of social development are addressed or (ii) through structured individual or small group multi-session counseling which focuses on the specific concerns of the participant(s) (e.g., divorce, abuse or aggressive behavior). 2. No student shall be required to participate in any counseling program to which the student's parents object. 3. On or before July 1, 1996, each local school board in Virginia shall adopt a policy, consistent with paragraphs 1 and 2 above, concerning school guidance and counseling programs in the schools under its jurisdiction. At a minimum, each local school board policy shall contain the following: a) A provision for written notification, at least annually, to parents about the academic and career guidance and personal/social counseling programs which are available to their children. The notification shall include the purpose and general description of the programs, information regarding ways parents may review materials to be used in guidance and counseling programs at their child's school and information about the procedures by which parents may limit their child's participation in such programs. b) A provision prohibiting the use of counseling techniques which are beyond the scope of the professional certification or training of counselors, including hypnosis, or other psychotherapeutic techniques that are normally employed in medical or clinical settings and focus on mental illness or psychopathology. c) A provision requiring that information and records of personal/social counseling be kept confidential and separate from a student's educational records and not disclosed to third parties without prior parental consent or as otherwise provided by law. d) A provision with respect to personal/social counseling, setting forth either (i) the procedures by which parents can elect in writing to have their child not participate ("opt-out") or (ii) at the option of the local school board, if the local board determines that affirmative parental consent is required to participate in such counseling ("opt-in"), the procedures by which such affirmative consent may be given and withdrawn. In issuing such policy, the local board may distinguish between group and individual or small group counseling as defined in section 1(c). In no event shall a local board require affirmative parental consent for short duration personal/social counseling, which is needed to maintain order, discipline or a productive learning environment. e) In the event that the local board elects to require affirmative parental consent ("opt-in") under (d) above, a provision setting forth the procedures, if any, under which school officials may permit personal/social counseling for children whom they believe would benefit from such counseling, but whose parents fail to respond either affirmatively or negatively to reasonable requests for consent. f) Such other provisions as the local school board may deem appropriate. 4. Before adopting any such policy, or any amendment thereto, each local school board shall provide for public participation and comment.