P. O. BOX 2120
February 9, 1996


TO: Division Superintendents
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.
  Attachment:  This memo and its attachment will be sent to
               the Superintendent's Office            

  1. Pursuant to the Standards of Quality, each school shall
     make reasonably available, with available resources, to
     all students the following guidance and counseling
     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
     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.