Executive Director Message: The Ethically Minded Professional School Counselor

By: Stacy Eslick, WSCA Executive Director & Gregg Curtis, DPI School Counseling Consultant

Stacy Eslick
Gregg Curtis

It is hard to believe that the WSCA conference is just around the corner!  The WSCA Coordinator team has been working hard to plan another great conference for our members.  We can’t wait to see you in Madison for learning, sharing, networking and just having fun.
WSCA frequently hears about ethical and legal concerns from our members.  I encourage you to attend the intensive sectional on ethics at the WSCA conference. We have tailored this sectional to issues that School Counselors frequently face.
Practicing in an ethical manner is a foundation of comprehensive school counseling and vital as we work in the best interest of all students.  In addition, the new school counseling evaluation as created through the collaboration of WSCA and DPI includes ethical practice as a critical component in the professionalism domain.  In order to be considered an exemplary practitioner using this rubric, the counselor needs to be a professional role model and ethical consultant for others; as well as contribute to the development of others and the well-being of the profession. (http://dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/sspw/pdf/psschoolcounselorrubric.pdf)
Ethics is also a topic for our national organization because School Counselor are faced with making decisions every day that have ethical and legal implications.  School Counselors should look to our ethical standards to help us through these sensitive situations; ASCA has created a helpful ethical tips for school counselors (http://bit.ly/1Ue2e9w)
Ethical Tips for School Counselors
1. Act in the best interests of the student clients at all times. Act in good faith and in the absence of malice.
2. Inform student clients of possible limitations on the counseling relationship prior to the beginning of the relationship.
3. Increase awareness of personal values, attitudes and beliefs; refer when personal characteristics hinder effectiveness.
4. Actively attempt to understand the diverse cultural backgrounds of the clients with whom you work, including your own cultural/ethnic/racial identity and its impact on your values and beliefs about the counseling process.
5. Function within the boundaries of personal competence. Be aware of personal skill levels and limitations.
6. Be able to fully explain why you do what you do. A theoretical rationale should undergird counseling strategies and interventions.
7. Encourage family involvement, where possible, when working with minors in sensitive areas that might be controversial.
8. Follow written job descriptions. Be sure what you are doing is defined as an appropriate function in your work setting.
9. Read and adhere to the ethical standards of your profession. Keep copies of the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors on hand, review them periodically and act accordingly.
10. Consult with other professionals (colleagues, supervisors, counselor educators, professional association ethics committee, etc.) Have a readily accessible support network of professionals.
11. Join appropriate professional associations. Read association publications and participate in professional development opportunities.
12. Stay up-to-date with laws and current court rulings, particularly those pertaining to counseling with minors.
13. Consult with a knowledgeable attorney, when necessary. In questionable cases, seek legal advice prior to initiating action.
ASCA is currently in the process of revising and updating the Ethical Standards for School Counselors.  ASCA will provide a public input period by posting the draft ethics revisions on the ASCA website for comment in March with the revisions being finalized in June. WSCA had a team of School Counselors that provided feedback to ASCA on these revisions. Many thanks to Tricia Norby, David Bassan, Macarena Correa, Kelly Saginakk, Gregg Curtis and Andrew Goldach for your time, thoughts and work on this project.
I look forward to seeing you at conference!
Stacy Eslick

Ethical Decision Making – Ethics, Law & Process   
By Carrie King, Ph.D., WSCA Board Director

For several years, I had the privilege of serving as the Ethics Committee Chair for both WSCA and WCA. In that time, many situations were brought to me by school counselors as they questioned how a particular situation should be handled. The majority of the situations had something to do with different aspects of confidentiality.
A requirement of school counseling practice is ethical decision-making. Our decisions and actions within our role as school counselors are guided by the ASCA Code of Ethics, as well as dictated by State law, FERPA, HIPPA, and policies put in place by individual school boards and school administrations. A familiarity with each of these is important as one enters the formal ethical decision-making process.
Below I will share three queries (with modifications omitting all identifying information for anonymity) that I received in the past couple years. For each question, you’ll be presented with sections of our ethics code and laws that inform the ethical decision-making process for these specific situations. Note, because every counselor may have a slightly different interpretation of ethics and law, different aspects of the ethics code and applicable laws may applied to any particular case by another counselor.
“I’m a school counseling intern. Can you please send me some information about a school counselor’s ethical obligation to confidentiality; especially in cases where child abuse is occurring. How much information can a school counselor disclose to colleagues who are not working directly with the student give?”
Two standards direct your decision making in the situation described. As a general rule, if you are completing your practicum/internship experience, you would share information with your site and faculty supervisor about every student you are working with as part of your training and supervision. Beyond that, only need-to-know information should be shared with anyone else in the school that is directly involved with this student; that includes teachers, counselors or administrators. Certain school policies may dictate that Administration needs to know the name of students for whom a CPS call has been made- details not necessary. Therefore it is imperative that you know what the policies for sharing information are.  Another example, depending on the situation, you may need to alert other counselors that a CPS call was made for a particular student, and therefore the student and parent shouldn't meet alone at school- but other details would not necessarily be shared.
C.2 Sharing Information with other Professionals
Promote awareness and adherence to appropriate guidelines regarding confidentiality, the distinction between public and private information and staff consultation.
C.2.e. Recognize the powerful role of ally that faculty and administration who function high in personal/social development skills can play in supporting students in stress, and carefully filter confidential information to give these allies what they “need to know” in order to advantage the student. Consultation with other members of the school counseling profession is helpful in determining need-to-know information. The primary focus and obligation is always on the student when it comes to sharing confidential information.
“My principal has asked that I document every student I see, grade level, length of time, date and reason in our student information system.  I have never been asked for this before and am concerned about who can view this information and if it should be disclosed at all. I have only kept a sole possession record in the past, but even those were not that detailed.”
FERPA would define this sort of info as non-directory. Faculty and staff can access non-directory information only if they have a legitimate academic need to do so. Therefore, personal information such as this can be saved in the student information system, but and should have tight and restricted access. Further, FERPA assures parents have a voice in what and how information is shared with others regarding their child’s educational records (ASCA Code of Ethics A.8 Student Records (e)).
Our ASCA Code of Ethics ask us to protect the confidentiality of students’ records and release personal data in accordance with prescribed federal and state laws and school policies including the laws within the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (ASCA Code of Ethics A.2.h.) . Student information stored and transmitted electronically is treated with the same care as traditional student records. Recognize the vulnerability of confidentiality in electronic communications and only transmit sensitive information electronically in a way that is untraceable to students’ identity. (ASCA Code of Ethics A.2.h).
Note: Critical information such as a student who has a history of suicide attempts or suicidal ideation must be conveyed to the receiving school in a personal contact such as a phone call. (ASCA Code of Ethics A.2.h).
Explore the reason for having this sort of documentation in such detail. There are likely different alternatives. If it is to track how your time is used, you may advocate to use the attached ASCA Model template titled, Use of Time Assessment, instead. If you believe that the Principal is really trying to get you to document personal information that you are not comfortable documenting in such detail, try to get that person to see the complications here. You can approach it in a non-confrontational way by voicing your own concerns about violating FERPA. If worse comes to worse, you can code the information (only you hold the key) so others would have to see you to know exactly what the info in student information system means.
“A fellow school counselor dealt with a situation where a 6th grade boy was cutting.  The counselor did not believe that the student’s behavior was severe enough to contact the parents. I disagree. I also notice that there have been several similar situations handled the same way with 11 or 12 year old students who, in my opinion, are not developmentally mature enough to not have parents informed. What is the process for addressing my concerns?”
The ASCA Code of Ethics (2010) prescribed the following steps to address concerns about a colleague’s behavior in Section G1.
1. The school counselor should consult confidentially with a professional colleague to discuss the nature of a complaint to see if the professional colleague views the situation as an ethical violation.
2. When feasible, the school counselor should directly approach the colleague whose behavior is in question to discuss the complaint and seek resolution.
3. The school counselor should keep documentation of all the steps taken.
4. If resolution is not forthcoming at the personal level, the school counselor shall utilize the channels established within the school, school district, the state school counseling association and ASCA’s Ethics Committee.
5. If the matter still remains unresolved, referral for review and appropriate action should be made to the Ethics Committees in the following sequence:
• State school counselor association
• American School Counselor Association
6. The ASCA Ethics Committee is responsible for:
• Educating and consulting with the membership regarding ethical standards
• Periodically reviewing and recommending changes in code
• Receiving and processing questions to clarify the application of such standards. Questions  must be submitted in writing to the ASCA Ethics Committee chair.
• Handling complaints of alleged violations of the ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors. At the national level, complaints should be submitted in writing to the ASCA Ethics Committee, c/o the Executive Director, American School Counselor Association, 1101 King St., Suite 625, Alexandria, VA 22314.

Staff Spotlight

Nate Rice, Government Relations Co-Coordinator
It was February 2002. I had recently moved to Wisconsin from Pennsylvania to accept a school counseling position at Nathan Hale High School in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District. Here I was, in Stevens Point for the first time, sitting in an incredibly wide and long room filled with hundreds of school counselors. There was an elevated stage, behind which hung a large, high quality felt sign that read “Wisconsin School Counselor Association.” How cool and new all of this was to me! I had never been to a school counselor conference before. During the opening session, Wisconsin State Senator Fred Risser addressed the attendees and spoke passionately about his support for our profession and the difference we make in the lives of our students, families, school, and communities. Needless to say, I was hooked, inspired, and ready to get involved!
Years later, after participating in numerous WSCA Day on the Hill events at the Capitol in Madison and WSCA Summer Leadership Institutes around the state, the honorable and legendary school counselor extraordinaire Lisa Koenecke approached, gave me the customary big hug, and recruited me to serve as chair of WSCA’s Government Relations Committee. I was honored to take the reins from Gary Campbell and recently welcomed co-chair Andrea Donegan to join me. Today, still in the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District, I currently work at West Allis Central High School. I earned my undergraduate degree at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY, by double majoring in psychology and government, followed by my masters in school counseling from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to moving to Wisconsin, I completed my practicum in the School District of Philadelphia, worked at Harper High School in Chicago, and at West Perry High School, a rural high school northwest of Harrisburg, PA.
As always, our success as a committee depends on your active support. Please step up today and join our political advocacy subcommittee. There are no meetings to attend. Simply, periodically, when a legislative issue arises that directly affects school counseling and requires a rapid response, we will send you an e-mail and encourage you to respond by contacting your respective legislator(s). The e-mail will include a summary of the legislation, a sample letter, and talking points. To get involved, send your name and home address to nrice@wi.rr.com. I will follow up by sending you contact information for your representatives in Madison and Washington, DC, for future use.
And, finally, please don’t forget, it is never too late to sign up to participate in Day on the Hill 2016, to be held as a preconference workshop the afternoon of Tuesday, February 16, from 1:30 – 4:30. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s inspiring, and it makes a BIG difference for our profession!  This year, our goal is to increase participation by 25% to strengthen our collective voice. Please help us make this happen! If you are interested in participating or have any questions, please be in touch at nrice@wi.rr.com or 262-893-3880. Thank you for your valued time and continued support!

Committee Updates & Upcoming Events

Membership Update

WSCA would like your ideas regarding the needs of School Counselors in Wisconsin and enhancing WSCA membership benefits. Please complete our WSCA Counseling Needs Survey to share your thoughts. The survey should take less than 10 minutes and your responses will be reviewed by the WSCA Governing Board as we enrich our member benefits and professional development opportunities. The survey closes on Friday, February 19, 2016. In appreciation for your time, please enter the drawing for a $25 Amazon.com gift card at the end of the survey!

 To access the survey follow this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/KVRPS8P​

Public Relations

We hope you took advantage of the exciting opportunity to celebrate National School from Feb. 1st-5th! NSCW highlights the tremendous impact school counselors have in helping students achieve school success.   National School Counseling Week is always celebrated the first full week in February.
In the WSCA board strategic plan, we placed the importance of supporting school counselors as highly qualified practitioners as our number one priority.  To celebrate our qualifications, here are some ways you can continue to publicize your counseling efforts across our state.
  • Browse our promotional link click here regarding activities to celebrate National School Counseling week.  Your Public Relations Committee has already received the proclamation from the Governor!
  • Celebrate your efforts by taking a photograph of your counseling department personnel by building or by district (with or without matching shirts) and submit electronically to Lisa Koenecke, WSCA Public Relations Coordinator, at lisa.koenecke@gmail.com.  Photos are due by February 12, 2016 to be eligible to make the board at conference.  Last year we had some awesome entries, let's see what this year might bring!
Let’s join together with strong support for the best profession around – Wisconsin School Counselors.

Professional Development 

2016 Summer Academy- Cultural Competencies in Comprehensive School Counseling Programs
CESA 1 Conference Center – Pewaukee
Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. (includes lunch)
Session Details:   The Wisconsin RTI Center will share their newly released Cultural Competence model.  Participants will leave with the knowledge and skills to integrate this cultural competence model into a comprehensive school counseling program!
Registration Fees:   
Early bird special until May 31st, 2016: WSCA Member $55; Non-member $65
  • WSCA Member: $65           
  • Non-Member: $75
  • Grad Student Member: $40
** One Graduate Credit will be offered through Viterbo University for $200.00
Course payment & registration are separate from the workshop registration.

Thank you to our host site CESA 1!

If you would like to learn about sponsorship opportunities for WSCA’s Summer Academy, please contact Aria Krieser, Professional Development Chair, at: krieseam@hudson.k12.wi.us

Publications Update

Please consider submitting! If you are nervous, or unsure how to write/submit, attend the sectional at this year’s conference entitled, “Write for WSCAlink” where I will give you some easy tips and the courage you need to get published!

Consider submitting to WSCAlink! We want your submissions in the following areas:
  • Feature Articles:  There are monthly topics related to WSCA’s Ends Policies (upcoming topics to be covered include The Ethically Minded Professional School Counselor and Mental Health in Our Schools). Articles tend to be no more than 2 pages in length, 12 font double-spaced.
  • Tips for Best Practice: Anyone can submit for this section!  It should be no more than 500 words (roughly two pages, double-spaced) and offer practical ideas that can be implemented right away. Examples include an innovative small-group idea that worked well for your students or a great classroom management strategy that you’ve used during lessons.  Short and easy to use is the goal for this writing.   
Send questions/articles to tabithastelter@gmail.com and the Editorial Board will let you know when it will be used. Don’t be afraid, be published!

Scholarship and Professional Recognition Update

WSCA is proud to announce our continued partnership with: Educators Credit Union! We are thrilled to partner with ECU and want to spread awareness about their incredibly generous scholarship opportunity for high school seniors, read on for more info!
Educators Credit Union awards twenty-five $2,000 scholarships, based on a student’s academic record, participation in school and/or community activities, and demonstration of one or more of the core values of Educators Credit Union, which are respect, integrity, community, passion, and stewardship. Additionally, students must attend a Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington, or Waukesha County High School.
The completed scholarship application is due by March 14, 2016 and can be found at http://www.wscaweb.org/EducatorsCreditUnion

Conference Updates

The WSCA Conference is one of the highest attended, best coordinated and highest quality content conferences in the nation. Engage in as many of the sectionals as you can as well as the general session keynote presentations. There is a lot of new information to learn from many of the vendors who participate in the conference and the vendors appreciate your visits to their exhibits. Most of all, take this great opportunity to meet and engage with your peers from around the state!
Here is what you can expect at this year's conference:
  • Two fantastic keynote speakers: Jeffrey Selingo & Paul Wesselmann
  • Over 80 exhibitors
  • 84 Sectional Presentations - Click Here to view
  • Over 1000 School Counselor Professionals:  Take full advantage of the great networking opportunities, bring along your list of current struggles or issues and lots of business cards.  Hunt out the solutions either by attending a learning session that addresses the topic or by asking questions of the people who are seated around you.  Asking questions, exchanging cards, and sharing ideas are three of the keys to a successful conference.
  • Purchase books from our NEW Bookstore
  • Wednesday Night Reception - Unwind a little while you snack on some complimentary appetizers, sip on beverage, create fun memories at the photo booth, and possibly win some great prizes!!
  • Our Charity - Reach-A-Child - To provide First Responders books and backpacks to Comfort children-in-crisis
Conference Details:
  • Parking:  There is limited parking at the Monona Terrace.  We recommend that you take the Free Shuttle Bus provided by the WSCA Conference.  The Shuttle Bus service is available from the Alliant Energy Center parking lot (a $7 parking fee is required) and at the Sheraton, Holiday Inn Express on Wednesday, Feb 17 & Thursday, Feb 18.  WE RECOMMEND YOU TAKE THE EARLIEST SHUTTLE AS POSSIBLE.  Click here to view the shuttle schedule.
  • Hotel and Travel Details:  For those traveling in from out of town, here are dining options, hotel details and local maps to help you find your way around.  Visit the Registration desk to learn about fun things to do in Madison, while you are here.
Schedule of Events - Click Here


February 2016

Executive Director Message: The Ethically Minded Professional School Counselor

By: Stacy Eslick, WSCA Executive Director & Gregg Curtis, DPI School Counseling Consultant

Topic of the Month:
The Ethically Minded Professional School Counselor

Ethical Decision Making – Ethics, Law & Process

Staff Spotlight:

Nate Rice, Government Relations Co-Coordinator

Committee Updates & Announcements