Ethical Issues in School Psychology:
Current topics from the state and national level
Laurie Klose, PhD, LSSP
Brook Roberts, MA, LSSP
Jeremy Sullivan, PhD, LSSP
TASP Summer Institute 2013
Corpus Christi, Texas
Learning Objectives
 Understand the nature of ethical issues that
have been raised in inquiries or cases
recently submitted to the NASP Ethical and
Professional Practices Committee, university
faculty and school based supervisors
 Apply accepted and evolving standards and
principles to these issues; and
 Develop strategies for responding to these
issues in an ethically appropriate manner.
Format for today’s session
 Investigate recent national and state issues
or individual local issues through group
 Whole group discussion of relevant ethical
issues related to cases and implications for
 The information in this workshop does not
constitute legal advice.
 Opinions are the presenters’ professional
opinions and should not be regarded as
statements of NASP/TASP positions or as
positions of the EPP Committee.
Ethics codes are imperfect guides for
professional conduct.
 Comprise broad, abstract principles as well as
specific mandates
Competing ethical principles or conflicts between
ethical principles and laws or regulations
Conflicting interests of multiple parties (e.g.,
student, parents, classmates)
Dual roles of employee and pupil advocate
May not address new and emerging ethical issues
in a timely manner
Ethical Guidance
 NASP Principles for Professional Ethics 2010
 Modeled on Canadian Psychological Association
 4 broad themes, 17 principles, many standards
 Respecting the Dignity and Rights of All Persons
 Professional Competence and Responsibility
 Honesty and Integrity in Professional
 Responsibility to Schools, Families,
Communities, the Profession, and Society
 To fully understand and appreciate ethics,
one must grasp the notion of context.
 The work of the LSSP is embedded in
 Systems operate according to established
Ethical and Legal Decision-Making Model
(Williams et al, 2008)
1. Describe the problem situation
2. Define the potential ethical-legal issues involved
3. Consult available ethical-legal guidelines
4. Consult with supervisors and colleagues
5. Evaluate the rights, responsibilities, and welfare
of all affected parties
6. Consider alternative solutions and consequences
of making each decision
7. Make the decision and take responsibility for it
Adapted from Koocher and Keith-Spiegel (1998)
1. Describe the problem situation
 Focus on available information and attempt to
gather and objectively state the issues or
 Breaking down the complex, sometimes
emotionally-charged situations into clear,
behavioral statements is helpful.
2. Define the potential
ethical-legal issues involved
 Enumerate the ethical and legal issues in
 Again, state these as clearly and accurately
as possible, without bias or exaggeration.
3. Consult available
ethical-legal guidelines
 Research the issues in question using reference
sources, such as NASP’s Principles for Professional
Ethics (2010), IDEA 2004, state guidelines governing
special education, textbooks on ethics and legal issues
in school psychology (Jacob, Decker, and Hartshorne’s
Ethics and Law for School Psychologists [6th ed.,
2011], Thomas and Grimes’ Best Practices in School
Psychology, job descriptions, school board policies,
TSBEP Rules, APA Code of Ethics, and other
appropriate sources.
4. Consult with supervisors
and colleagues
 Talk with your supervisor and trusted colleagues
who are familiar with the legal and ethical
guidelines that apply to school psychology.
 On a need-to-know basis, share information
specifically about the issues you have identified.
 Brainstorm possible alternatives and
consequences, and seek input from those whose
opinions you value.
5. Evaluate the rights, responsibilities,
and welfare of all affected parties
 Look at the big picture rather than focusing on the
isolated details of the controversy.
 Consider the implications for students, families,
teachers, administrators, other school personnel, and
 How will the various alternative courses of action affect
each party involved?
 Remember two basic assumptions underlying NASP’s
Principles for Professional Ethics:
school psychologists act as advocates for their studentclients, and
2. at the very least, school psychologists will do no harm.
6. Consider alternative solutions and
consequences of making each decision
 Carefully evaluate in a step-by-step manner how
each alternative solution will impact the involved
 Who and how will they be affected?
 What are the positive and negative outcomes of
each alternative?
 Weigh the pros and cons.
 Step back and carefully consider the information
you have gathered.
7. Make the decision and
take responsibility for it
 Once all the steps are completed, make a decision
that is consistent with ethical and legal guidelines
and one that you feel confident is the best choice.
 Take responsibility for following through on that
decision, attend to the details, and attempt to
bring closure to the scenario.
Demonstration Case #1
 Choose one of the cases in this presentation and
do a role play of the situation;
 Assign groups and have groups create a role play,
song, rap, cheer, newscast, whatever, that
illustrates and ethical dilemma and a possible
National Case #1
 Dillon’s parents have asked about filing a complaint about a school
psychologist who met with him for counseling. The school psychologist had
been seeing this high school student for a few weeks and in a recent
session, Dillon disclosed that he had audio recorded a teacher with his cell
phone. His purpose was to illustrate how the teacher “treated him.” The
parents reported that the school psychologist confiscated the phone and
turned it over to an administrator and disclosed the surreptitious recording
to the administrator as well. Disciplinary procedures for violating school
rules are pending against Dillon.
 When the parents complained, the school psychologist explained to the
parents that the district has a rule about cell phones in school so he had to
confiscate it. And he had to report the audio recording to the
administration because that conduct was illegal.
 The parents believe there was a violation of a verbal confidentiality
agreement made with their son (approximately “everything you say is
confidential unless you talk about hurting yourself or others”). And they
want their phone back.
Standard I.2.2. School psychologists minimize
intrusions on privacy. They do not seek or
store private information about clients that is
not needed in the provision of services.
School psychologists recognize that client–
school psychologist communications are
privileged in most jurisdictions and do not
disclose information that would put the
student or family at legal, social, or other risk
if shared with third parties, except as
permitted by the mental health provider–
client privilege laws in their state.
Standard I.2.3. School psychologists inform
students and other clients of the boundaries of
confidentiality at the outset of establishing a
professional relationship. They seek a shared
understanding with clients regarding the types
of information that will and will not be shared
with third parties….School psychologists
recognize that it may be necessary to discuss
confidentiality at multiple points in a
professional relationship to ensure client
understanding and agreement regarding how
sensitive disclosures will be handled.
Standard I.2.4. School psychologists respect the
confidentiality of information obtained during their
professional work. Information is not revealed to
third parties without the agreement of a minor
child’s parent or legal guardian (or an adult
student), except in those situations in which failure
to release information would result in danger to the
student or others, or where otherwise required by
law. Whenever feasible, student assent is obtained
prior to disclosure of his or her confidences to third
parties, including disclosures to the student’s
Standard I.2.5. School psychologists discuss
and/or release confidential information only
for professional purposes and only with
persons who have a legitimate need to know.
They do so within the strict boundaries of
relevant privacy statutes.
National Case #2
 A member contends: “I believe that the new ethics
code is more prescriptive than the previous code. It
seems that the 90 specific standards include more
‘best practices’ than I recall in the previous code. For
example, Standard II.2.2 states ‘School psychologists
actively monitor the impact of their recommendations
and intervention plans. They revise a
recommendation, or modify or terminate an
intervention plan, when data indicate the desired
outcomes are not being attained.’ Could I be brought
up on ethics ‘charges’ if we don’t collect progress
monitoring data on interventions? I’m concerned that
what used to be recommended best practices have
become enforceable standards and practitioners will
need to be much more cautious from now on.”
 Standard II.3.2. School psychologists use assessment
techniques and practices that the profession considers to be
responsible, research-based practice.
 Standard II.2.2 School psychologists actively monitor the
impact of their recommendations and intervention plans.
They revise a recommendation, or modify or terminate an
intervention plan, when data indicate the desired outcomes
are not being attained. School psychologists seek the
assistance of others in supervisory, consultative, or referral
roles when progress monitoring indicates that their
recommendations and interventions are not effective in
assisting a client.
Standard II.2.3
School psychologists accept responsibility for the
appropriateness of their professional practices,
decisions, and recommendations. They correct
misunderstandings resulting from their
recommendations, advice, or information and take
affirmative steps to offset any harmful
consequences of ineffective or inappropriate
National Case #3
 A practitioner publicly mentioned on a
listserv that she had mailed a behavior
rating scale to a parent for completion.
Subsequently the practitioner received a
complaint of unethical conduct from a
colleague who asserted that this practice
violated test security (Standard II.5.1) and
respecting intellectual property rights
(Standard II.5.3). The member asked for an
EPPC opinion.
Standard II.5.1. School psychologists maintain
test security, preventing the release of
underlying principles and specific content that
would undermine or invalidate the use of the
instrument. Unless otherwise required by law
or district policy, school psychologists provide
parents with the opportunity to inspect and
review their child’s test answers rather than
providing them with copies of the their child’s
test protocols. However, on parent request, it
is permissible to provide copies of a child’s test
protocols to a professional who is qualified to
interpret them.
Standard II.5. School psychologists recognize the effort and
expense involved in the development and publication of
psycho- logical and educational tests, intervention
materials, and scholarly works. They respect the
intellectual property rights and copyright interests of the
producers of such materials, whether the materials are
published in print or digital formats. They do not duplicate
copyright-protected test manuals, testing materials, or
unused test protocols without the permission of the
producer. However, school psychologists understand that,
at times, parents’ rights to examine their child’s test
answers may supersede the interests of test publishers.
National Case #4
 A member wrote: “I have been working closely with a parent who is Asian-
American as the case manager for her son’s special education placement.
There have been problems with the teachers not following the student’s
IEP as it was developed. It has been a challenging experience trying to be
the mediator. Finally, after many meetings and headaches, the situation
has been resolved. Yesterday, the mother gave me a thank you card and a
gift of a silk scarf from her native country, Thailand.
 I think this gift may pose a dilemma for me because of dual relationships
and conflicts of interest. I know that a school psychologist could
potentially act in an unethical manner if she allowed conflicts of interest
to get in the way of her judgment. If I accept the gift, the mother could
potentially expect favors of me. Also, my judgment in handling future
situations with the parent could be clouded because I have developed a
relationship with her beyond simply being the case manager for her son.
My abilities in making sound and fair decisions regarding the child’s
educational program could affect other staff members too. If I return the
gift, the parent could be offended. Do you have any advice?”
 Principle III.4. Multiple Relationships and Conflicts of Interest:
“School psychologists avoid multiple relationships and
conflicts of interest that diminish their professional
effectiveness.” Specific standards address:
 Private conduct compromising professional effectiveness
 Personal/religious beliefs conflicting w/service delivery
 Exploiting clients, supervisees, and graduate students
 Business relationships with clients
 Financial conflict of interest by NASP leaders
 Financial conflict of interest by authors/presenters
 Paying or receiving payment for referrals
 Payment for data for client database
 Dual setting practice issues
Standard II.1.2 Practitioners are obligated to pursue
knowledge and understanding of the diverse
cultural, linguistic, and experiential backgrounds of
students, families, and other clients. When
knowledge and understanding of diversity
characteristics are essential to ensure competent
assessment, intervention, or consultation, school
psychologists have or obtain the training or
supervision necessary to provide effective services,
or they make appropriate referrals.
Standard III.2.4 School psychologists who provide
services to several different groups (e.g., families,
teachers, classrooms) may encounter situations in
which loyalties are conflicted. As much as possible,
school psychologists make known their priorities
and commitments in advance to all parties to
prevent misunderstandings.
State Issue #1
 I have been licensed to practice in the schools for
8 years, and I am now pursuing additional
licensure as a psychologist. My boss has been kind
enough to pay for my supervision fees to a super
supervisor. However, during my recent review of
the regulations about how to become licensed, I
discovered this new rule that I find to be
objectionably restrictive and discriminatory to
practicing Licensed Specialists in School
Psychology, as they insist we be called in this state.
 Discussed by TSBEP in meetings several times and has
been addressed in several opinion letters written by the
 A doctoral level professional who is accruing post
doctoral supervised hours of practice in fulfillment of the
requirements of becoming a Licensed Psychologist may
not do so while practicing as an LSSP. This person can
continue to provide psychological services in the schools,
but must clearly identify themselves as a post doctoral
provider under supervision. For example, you should
sign reports as Post Doctoral Fellow in School Psychology
under the supervision of _________, Licensed
Ideally, the person providing the
supervision should be dual licensed as
an LP (the appropriate license for
providing the post doctoral
supervision) and an LSSP (the
appropriate license for providing
psychological services in the schools).
TSBEP has also stated that an LSSP might continue to
work under that license in the schools and provide unsupervised services and also provide services as a
post-doc under supervision. For example, you might
participate in ARD meetings and sign paperwork as an
LSSP- those hours spent doing that would not count
toward the 1200 required supervised hours toward LP
licensure requirements. Then, the professional might
provide assessment or counseling services as a "postdoctoral fellow under supervision of _____" for
another student or as part of their job. These hours
would then be documented and count toward the
1200 hour post doc supervised practice requirement.
• The key is to be clear in identifying the
license under which the service is being
provided. This could be accomplished
by noting this on the consent form for
the specific activity being conducted.
• While this may seem laborious, it is the
only situation that has been defined to
allow those LSSPs who are seeking
future LP license to be able to continue
to work while accumulating those post
doc hours that are required.
Standard III.1.1. Competency levels, education,
training, experience, and certification and licensing
credentials are accurately represented to clients,
recipients of services, and others. School
psychologists correct any misperceptions of their
qualifications. School psychologists do not
represent themselves as specialists in a particular
domain without verifiable training and supervised
experience in the specialty.
State Issue # 2
 I am a new LSSP and have recently received the
NCSP credential. I have attempted to find more
specifics about TSBEP’s decision, but it has not
answered my question. In my understanding, we
can list NCSP after LSSP on our documents. Does
this also allow the use of “school psychologist” as
a professional title or must I continue to use LSSP?
You may include the NCSP (letters or words)
on your signature block, business cards, etc.
However, you should not refer to yourself in
documents (ARD deliberations, position
descriptions, etc) as a school psychologist,
always LSSP.
465.38. (2) Titles. The correct title for persons holding this
license is Licensed Specialist in School Psychology or LSSP.
Only individuals who meet the requirements of Board rule
§465.6 of this title (relating to Listings, Public Statements
and Advertisements, Solicitations, and Specialty Titles) may
refer to themselves as School Psychologists. No individual
may use the title Licensed School Psychologist. An LSSP
who has achieved certification as a Nationally Certified
School Psychologist (NCSP) may use this credential along
with the LSSP
State Issue # 3
 My name is Charlie Watts and I am a LSSP Trainee for
Fine ISD. I was hoping to find some clarification about
a question myself and many other LSSPs in the area
 Once a LSSP Trainee passes jurisprudence and receives
their license, is that individual referred to as a LSSP
Trainee and required to have supervision for one
academic year? I have heard a few different
interpretations of the requirements.
 For example I completed my internship last year,
passed jurisprudence this summer (July 2012), and
received a license in August. Am I still required to be a
LSSP Trainee with supervision for this academic year
(August 2012-May 2013) even while possessing my
own license?
You may call yourself an LSSP as soon as you
get your official license, however, you must
be supervised for a year after licensure. So
here is a sample typical progression:
 2012-13 school year- intern
 May 13, graduation and application
submitted June 13- LSSP Trainee letter received
 July 13- jurisprudence passed
 August 13 LSSP license received
 2013-14 school year: LSSP under
supervision of __________, LSSP
 465.38 (4) (ii) Individuals who meet the training requirements of
Board rule §463.9 of this title and who have passed the National
School Psychology Examination at the Texas cutoff score or above
and who have been notified in writing of this status by the Board.
These individuals may practice under supervision in a Texas public
school district for no more than one calendar year. They must be
designated as trainees.
 (iii) LSSPs for a period of one academic year following licensure
unless the individual also holds licensure as a psychologist in Texas.
This supervision may be waived for individuals who legally provided
full-time, unsupervised school psychological services in another
state for a minimum of three academic years immediately
preceding application for licensure in Texas as documented by the
public schools where services were provided and who graduated
from a training program approved by NASP or accredited in school
psychology by APA or who hold NCSP certification.
State Issue #4
 There has been some talk about putting the
LSSPs back under the auspices of the Texas
Education Agency and removing them from
TSBEP. Do you have any thoughts about
 With the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act
(AHCA), there are reimbursement issues for psych services in
the schools that may come into play.
 The LSSP licensure is deemed the highest level of licensure
for practice of school psychology therefore those
practitioners that hold the LSSP may be eligible for
reimbursement for services via the AHCA. Some states have
already contacted the TASP legislative committee to discuss
how they could implement a LSSP licensure in their states as
If the LSSP licensure requirements were removed from the
TSBEP, the licensed psychologist would become the defacto
highest credential.
Local Issues????
 American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and
code of conduct with the 2010 amendments. Retrieved July 2, 2010, from
Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments of 2008. The Americans with Disabilities
Act of 1990 is codified at U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq.
Armistead, L., Williams, B.B., & Jacob, S. (2011). Professional ethics for school
psychologists: A problem-solving model casebook (2nd ed). Bethesda, MD: National
Association of School Psychologists, Bethesda, MD.
Burns, M.K., Jacob, S., & Wagner, A. (2008). Ethical and legal issues associated with
using responsiveness-to-intervention to assess learning disabilities. Journal of School
Psychology.46, 263-279.
Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment, American Psychological Association
(2010). Recent developments affecting the disclosure of test data and materials:
Comments regarding the 1996 Statement on the disclosure of test data. Retrieved
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, 20 U.S.C.A. § 1232g. Regulations
appear at 34 C.F.R. Part 99. Electronic e-CFR retrieved July 12, 2009, from,
Jacob, S., Decker, D.M., & Hartshorne, T.S. (2011). Ethics and law for school
psychologists (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
 Jacob, S., & Kleinheksel, M.M. (2012). School psychology. In S. Knapp, M.
Handelsman, M. Gottlieb, & L. VandeCreek (Eds.), APA Handbook on Ethics, Vol. 2
(pp. 125-147). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Jacob, S. & Powers, K.E. (2009). Privileged communication in the school
psychologist-client relationship. Psychology in the Schools, 46, 307-318.
Knapp, S.J., Gottlieb, M.C., Handelsman, M.M., & VandeCreek, L.D. (Eds.). (2012).
APA handbook of ethics in psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological
Knapp. S., & VandeCreek, L. (2006). Practical ethics for psychologists: A positive
approach. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Koocher, G.P., & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2008). Ethics in psychology and the mental health
professions: Standards and cases. New York: Oxford University Press.
McNamara, K. (2008). Best practices in the application of professional ethics. In A.
Thomas & J. Grimes (Eds.), Best practices in school psychology V (pp. 1933-1941).
Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.
National Association of School Psychologists. (2010). Principles for Professional
Ethics. Retrieved from
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services & U.S. Department of Education.
(November 2008). Joint guidance on the application of the Family Educational
Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to student health records. Retrieved from

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