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Jerry Moore (Admin)
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Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 12:26 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Computer: your kid has "disorders"
Get on the Bus Blog
10.28.05


Imagine your teenager comes home from school looking depressed. You ask what’s wrong. She says, “Oh, it’s just my social anxiety disorder.” What?

Yes, she tells you, she has social anxiety disorder. And also obsessive compulsive disorder.

What are you talking about, you ask? Who is telling you this?

They told me at school!

And no, it wasn’t a psychologist, social worker or even the school nurse that told her. It was: a computer! They call it TeenScreen.

Just after I complained about computerized scoring of tests, now one Indiana school is taking things even further with the computer. They’re letting the computer diagnose you kid’s alleged mental problems!

A civil liberties group called The Rutherford Institute that is suing the South Bend, Ind., school district on behalf of 15-year-old Chelsa Rhodes, described what occurred:
“Students were divided into groups of 10-15, herded into classrooms and placed in front of computers. After completing the examination and being escorted into a private hallway by an employee of Madison Center, Chelsea was informed that based on her responses that she liked to clean and didn’t like to party very much, she suffered from at least two mental health problems, obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder.

Chelsea was also told that if her condition worsened, her mother should take her to the Madison Center for treatment. According to Chelsea, a majority of the students who were subjected to the TeenScreen exam were also told that they were suffering from some sort of mental or social “disorder.”

I am amazed first of all that anyone would think a computer could diagnose mental disorders, and that a school district would buy into this, and that it would subject kids to such a test without parental consent or without having the results explained to the kids by some kind of professional.

TeenScreen bills itself as a suicide prevention system. But I found one blogger who alleges TeenScreen is backed by drug companies who would love to see more kids taking meds.

How do you think you would react if this happened at your child’s school?
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Posted on Sunday, September 18, 2005 - 9:20 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Fierce opposition arises to mental health screening in schools
By Karen MacPherson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
September 18, 2005


WASHINGTON -- Back in 2003, a federal commission created by President Bush recommended improving and expanding mental health programs in schools to provide help as early as possible to students with learning problems or those who might turn violent or disruptive.

The commission highlighted one means of early diagnosis, the Columbia University "TeenScreen" program, that allows students -- with parental permission -- to get a mental health "check-up" via a computer-based questionnaire before graduating from high school.

The commission's 86-page report included this suggestion among a long list of recommendations to improve the U.S. mental health system. The report attracted little attention outside mental health circles.

But over the past two years, a cottage industry of fiery opposition has grown up around the proposal to expand mental health programs in the schools and has become a popular rallying cry for conservatives who see it as unwarranted government intervention in family life.

Opponents of school-based mental health programs point to parents who say their children have been misdiagnosed with problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and forced to take medication under pressure from school officials.

To these parents, the commission suggestion to "improve and expand'' school mental health programs is the first, inexorable step toward mandatory school mental health screening for all students, and mandatory medication for many, despite repeated assurances by commission members, school officials and congressional experts that this won't happen.

Led by groups like http://www.ablechild.org/ and EdAction, these parents want to prohibit schools from having anything to do with the mental health of their students, saying it is the job of parents to ensure their children's well-being.

As a first step, the groups are pushing Congress to pass legislation, sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., and supported by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, to prohibit any federal funding for mental health screening of students without the written consent of their parents.

"If [this legislation] is passed, it will prevent wasteful and potentially devastating federal funding while safeguarding the informed consent rights of all parents in what is a most serious matter -- their children's health and safety," said Patricia Weathers, president and co-founder of Ablechild.org.

The educators and medical professionals on the other side of the debate agree parental consent should be required for screenings. But they also think it's worth studying the idea of promoting voluntary screenings to get help for children who need it as early as possible.

"There is this curious coalition of people who are concerned about stuff that we didn't recommend, and are making a big noise about it,'' said Michael Hogan, director of the Ohio Mental Health Department and chairman of what was then called the New Freedom Commission.

"The core thing that the commission was concerned about is the fact that a lot of these mental health problems are pretty clearly problems of childhood and adolescent onset.... Added to this is the fact that most children never get to see a mental health specialist.

"The fundamental logic of what the commission said is that we should take steps to facilitate access to care where children are.''

The debate over school screenings is just part of a larger discussion over the role schools should play in ensuring children's mental heath. Many educators point to a clear connection between mental health and academic achievement.

How much of a "role" should educators have? Michael at Joanne Jacobs notes, "These days it's breakfast, nutrition, after-school supervision, health and medical services, relationship counseling, sex counseling, condoms and the pill, on-site social workers . . . ." Shouldn't school be more "about getting an education, not being turned into the perfect societal cog."

"There are a whole slew of intra-personal variables that contribute to a kid's ability to learn and are heavily related to their academic success,'' said Stacy Skalski, public policy director for the National Association of School Psychologists.

"There are also inter-personal variables. Kids don't come into the world knowing how to relate to others. They need to learn that.''

Bruce Hunter, a veteran policy official with the American Association of School Administrators, said it's clear "the education business is tough enough without getting into the mental health business.

"But if a kid is going to beat the hell out of other kids regularly, and is disrupting the classroom, that's a child that needs some mental health assistance. One of the things that our members have expressed is a rising concern about students' mental health, and the ability to get them help when they have a problem,'' Hunter said.

A complicating factor is that the debate over school mental health problems has become enmeshed in the vehement opposition of some people to medicating children for depression, hyperactivity and other problems. These opponents point to the nasty potential side effects of some commonly prescribed drugs, including suicide, and argue that they simply aren't safe for children.

Hogan and others supporters of school mental health programs agree that more long-term testing should be done on antidepressants and other emotion-altering drugs prescribed for children and teens.

"We [commission members] recommended that the scientists and regulatory officials get on top of the safety issue,'' Hogan said.

Weathers, of Ablechild.org, is among those who believe more attention should be paid to children's nutrition and behavior management, instead of "being so quick to prescribe a drug." Her group supports legislation, sponsored by Rep. John Kline, that would prohibit schools from requiring parents to have their children medicated to attend classes.

Kline's bill would expand protections in the Individuals with Disabilities Act, which prohibited schools from requiring special education students to take certain medications, to all students. The bill also would cover more types of medication than in the disability law.

Weathers said she was pressured into medicating her then first-grade son after a school psychologist diagnosed him with attention deficit disorder. The medication eventually made him psychotic, but when she stopped giving it to him the school reported her to state children protective officials for child abuse, she said.

A lawsuit brought by Weathers against school officials is pending; her son, meanwhile, is now 15 and "doing fine," she said.

"We have 1,000 stories like this,'' Weathers said. "Our group is not saying that children don't have attention or behavior problems. Some kids do. But why should we force parents to drug their children so they can attend school?"
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Posted on Friday, June 17, 2005 - 2:42 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Lawsuit: School nurse forced girl to take pregnancy test
Teen's dad says her privacy, constitutional rights were violated.
By Steven Kreytak / AUSTIN (TX) AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
June 17, 2005


A 15-year-old girl and her father have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that a San Marcos High School nurse forced the girl to take a pregnancy test.

Nurse Dyanna Eastwood called the girl to her office Jan. 11 and told her that a student at another school had claimed he impregnated her, according to the lawsuit, which claims the girl's privacy and constitutional rights were violated.

The girl denied that she was pregnant and said she never had sex with the boy, but Eastwood insisted that the girl take the test, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Austin. The girl's lawyer said she was not pregnant.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, claims Eastwood violated the girl's Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure.

* * *

The girl and her father are not being identified by the Austin American-Statesman because of her age and the sensitive nature of the dispute.

"This whole thing is intrinsically wrong," said John Hindera, the family's Austin lawyer. "She's a 15-year-old girl that's suddenly being confronted with having sex and being pregnant."

Hindera said that Eastwood did not threaten any consequences if the girl declined to take the test, but that the girl felt she had no choice because the nurse is an authority figure.

When the girl's father asked Principal Chad Kelly about the pregnancy test, the father was handed a piece of paper indicating that "the nurse performed the pregnancy test pursuant to the school district's interpretation of section 32.003 of the Texas Family Code," the lawsuit states.

Part of that section states that a child may consent to medical treatment by a licensed physician if the child "is unmarried and pregnant and consents to hospital, medical or surgical treatment, other than abortion, related to the pregnancy."


Hindera said even if the girl agreed to take the test, that consent isn't valid under Texas law because of her age.

It is unclear whether it is a practice in the San Marcos school district for nurses to keep pregnancy tests for student use. A district spokeswoman declined to say because of the pending lawsuit.

The Austin and Round Rock school districts do not keep or administer pregnancy tests and only deal with issues of student pregnancies if the student requests help, spokeswomen at those districts said.

"We don't get involved in those private matters," Nicole Kaufman said of Austin's practice. "Students being pregnant doesn't affect any form of educational service that we provide them."

Anna Schissel, a lawyer for the reproductive rights project at the New York Civil Liberties Union, said forcing tests on anyone presents medical ethics questions as well as potential constitutional violations.

"You can't force medical care on an unwilling patient," said Schissel, who represented a group of teenage girls who sued New York City schools in 2003.

The girls had been accused of cutting classes to attend a party where they had sex and were barred from classes until they showed officials the results of pregnancy tests. The case settled out of court.
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Posted on Tuesday, June 07, 2005 - 9:30 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mental health tests for kids spark debate
Opponents fear labeling of students
By Bonnie Miller Rubin, Chicago Tribune staff reporter. Tribune staff reporter Meg McSherry Breslin contributed to this report
June 5, 2005


Suzanne Cahalan knew there was a problem when her 4-year-old daughter started stealing from friends and relatives. But it took eight years before the Wheaton mother of four finally found out that the girl suffered from bipolar disorder.

Such delays in diagnosis make a powerful case that youngsters should be monitored closely for mental health problems, according to children's advocates who are drafting a plan to increase awareness in Illinois schools about depression, anxiety and other disorders, as well as the need to screen children when warning signs occur.

"Our daughter lost some crucial growing-up time," said Cahalan, an attorney. "If we had known earlier, we could have sought appropriate treatment to alleviate some of her symptoms. We could have saved not only her, but our entire family from some very terrifying days."

Critics say that such initiatives are what is truly terrifying. Conservative and anti-government Web sites have been buzzing for months about how such plans will lead to children being forcibly tested, unfairly labeled--and even drugged. Most of all, opponents say that watching out for mental disorders is the responsibility of parents, not institutions.

"The purpose of school is to educate," said Fran Eaton, a lobbyist who represents the Illinois Family Institute, Concerned Women of America and other conservative groups in Springfield. "At a time when the U.S. is lagging behind other nations in math and science, is this what we should be doing? Do we really want the state involved in determining emotional and social development?"

The idea of being more proactive gained momentum after President Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health found in 2003 that only 20 percent of troubled children receive treatment, and it called for schools to play a bigger role. Congress allocated $20 million for states to develop a range of programs, emphasizing prevention, early identification and intervention.

"This is not a hunt to find mental illness. It's about trying to support children so they can be healthy," said Barbara Shaw, chairwoman of the Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership, the task force developing the plan to improve access to treatment for youth from preschool through adolescence. A new draft of the plan is due on the governor's desk by month's end.

"Children have been kicked out of day care centers, failed in schools and generally suffered needlessly," Shaw said. "Through better screening, parents will have more information to help them help their children."

As long as the screening is voluntary and paid for by parents' health insurance, if they have it. We don't need another "free" service to include in school budgets.

Assessment tools are already used by primary care physicians, in early childhood programs and a variety of school settings. Questionnaires that evaluate mood and behavior--such as the TeenScreen Program developed at Columbia University--are used to identify those at high risk for depression and other mood disorders.

A sample question asks: "In the past month, how much of a problem have you had with feeling unhappy or sad?" Responses range from "1, no problem" to "5, very bad problem."

In the primary grades, one popular questionnaire is Ages and Stages, which is filled out by parents. In all cases, trained personnel, such as school psychologists, do the scoring. If concerns are identified, parents are encouraged to get further information. Any follow-up is at the discretion of the parent, officials said, just as it is when a child is identified as needing eyeglasses.

Why not make screening at the discretion of parents, too?

"Here we have something that can really help kids," said Dr. Louis Kraus, head of child and adolescent psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center. "If schools are just to educate, then why do we require a physical exam or that vaccines are up-to-date? It makes sense to use schools . . . because that's where the kids are."

The pathway to Hell is paved with good intentions--and convenience.

The Chicago Public Schools system has hired a consultant from the University of North Carolina to help more preschool teachers figure out when a child's problems are serious enough to require help such as special education services. School leaders hope to get budget approval for mental-health screeners and teacher training for about 25 schools beginning in the fall.

As with cancer or diabetes, mental illness is most responsive to therapy when caught early, said Dr. Carl Bell, a child psychiatrist and president of the Chicago Community Mental Health Council. When left untreated, mental illness places children at higher risk for dropping out of school, substance abuse, criminal activity and suicide.

This is why home visits from nurses are more cost-effective than preschool.

School officials already patrol for everything from tuberculosis to head lice, and mental illness should be no different, he said. "All they're doing is jacking it up a notch," said Bell, calling this one of the most urgent public health issues of the day.

Ah! But there's a huge difference. Physical exams, vaccinations and diseases of the body all deal with objective issues. But what constitutes mental illness is a great deal more subjective and influenced by social, cultural and political forces. When public schools become mass consumers of mental health services, what constitutes mental illness will be substantially determined by system needs. Do students talk back? Do they tease others? Do they laugh at teachers? Do they stare out the window during instruction? Do they prefer rugged individualism to the nanny state? If so, there must be a mental illness lurking in there somewhere.

And let's not pretend this isn't big business for the counseling industry. There's lots of full-time employment locked into this idea, with lots of political power to be gained. And it's all based on a false premise--that counselors are as effective as vaccinations. They aren't. Not by a long shot. On average, people are perhaps only slightly better off with lots of mental health counselors than they are without any of them. That's because sometimes counselors make things better, most times things get better on their own with or without counselors, and sometimes counselors make things worse.


"We're at the point where it's going to become unethical not to do these things--just as, in 2005, it is not ethical to deny a child a polio or a smallpox shot."

That's right. Which means that the discretion of parents to follow-up on what counselors say is a temporary right granted for political purposes to aid in the transition to mandated mental health counseling for all students. Parents have already gotten into legal battles over taking their children off Ritalin.

Mental health counseling must always be at the discretion of the client, absent a clear and immediate danger of the client to him/herself or to others.

But, once again, I must point out that mental health services are nothing like polio and smallpox shots. These are highly effective preventatives for objective conditions that everyone wants to avoid. Mental health services are marginally effective for subjective conditions that may be both beneficial and harmful to a person. The public should not be hoodwinked into analogies based on physical diseases and cures.


However, anti-government and anti-psychiatry groups--nationally as well as in Illinois--believe the diagnosis of mental illness is subjective, at best. And they contend that such ambitious plans come with a built-in profit motive.

"The stakeholders in this campaign have a financial interest in inflating the roster of children and adults who get labeled mentally ill," said Vera Hassner Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a patient advocacy group. More screened kids means more money for psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry, she said.

Kraus scoffed at that notion. "Most of us are so overwhelmed [by demand] that the concept that we're pushing for this to line our pockets is a joke."

I detect a couple of mental health issues in that response. Do you see them?

A conservative newsletter, the Illinois Leader, helped fuel the controversy by reporting that testing would be mandatory and done without parental consent. Officials say this is not true.

Nevertheless, when the Illinois partnership--made up of representatives from more than 30 health, education and child advocacy groups--delivers a new draft, it will spell out more explicitly that any screening would be voluntary and by parental permission.

The furor started to bubble up last fall, when the partnership held public forums at five locations around the state, including Chicago. One common fear is that all students would be screened, not just those exhibiting troubling behavior.

Eaton, the lobbyist, said private citizens shared their experiences with her, recalling how they were different from other students and did not fit the mold. In today's climate, "they were confident that they would be stigmatized as mentally ill. It was very painful to listen to."

It happened to my daughter. If you're out of the norm, you're a target--just like with bullying.

"Testing for kids in foster care or corrections--we have no objections with that," she said. "It's the idea that every child is seen as having a potential need for mental health care is where we have a problem."

Tweaking the language of the proposed plan doesn't placate State Sen. Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora), who calls it an overreach of government.

"When I listened to constituents on this issue, I heard real fear in their voices . . . that their kids would be labeled; that other classmates might not want to play with them," Lauzen said.

Proponents say one way to erase the stigma is to bring mental health into the mainstream. They also argue that it is unpredictable behavior, not the results of an assessment, that separates children from their peers.

The eight-year lag experienced by Cahalan's daughter from onset of symptoms to diagnosis and treatment is fairly typical, experts say. At age 12, the girl finally received the medications that tamed her mood swings. She will study nursing at a local college this fall.

What's the ethics of drugging people to change their moods? Shall we all start taking drugs to limit the swings of our moods?

Still, Cahalan laments the squandered years. "If my kid had asthma or leukemia, I'd want her labeled at an early age," she said. "I feel like she lost her childhood . . . and we can't ever get that back."

She didn't lose her childhood. She had a different kind of childhood--one that may ultimately be more beneficial to her than the one Cahalan laments losing. People seem to think that life is supposed to be easy; that no one should have to be bothered with putting up with people outside the norm. It's a dangerous idea for individual liberty and choice.

By the way, once mandatory mental health screening for students becomes the norm after the transition period, how long do you think it will be before mental health screening is mandated for the parents of students? The evolution of decreasing liberty in this country is a more scientifically sound theory than the evolution of plants and animals--and it happens much faster.

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Jerry Moore (Admin)
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Posted on Friday, May 27, 2005 - 12:09 am:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Pharma Lobbies to Drug Kids in Schools - Citizens Resisting
Sepp Hasslberger / New Media Explorer
May 11, 2005


Pharma interests have united with mental health organizations to push through legislation that would require mandatory testing and forced administration of drugs to kids in schools - without their parents' consent.

Rep. Ron Paul, MD has introduced a bill that would prevent such an eventuality.

If you live in the United States, please read on to see what you can do to protect your children.

Remember school shootings? Many of them were apparently committed under the influence of the very psychiatric drugs the new mental health testing program is pushing to use widely. Violence and suicides are some of the "side effects" of these drugs.

ALLIANCE FOR HUMAN RESEARCH PROTECTION (AHRP)
Promoting Openness, Full Disclosure, and Accountability

The big guns of America's mental health establishment -- including the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill -- are making united front in support of mass mental health screening of American children -- as recommended in the New Freedom Commission report. Get the facts.

The stakeholders in this campaign (see below) have a financial interest in inflating the roster of children and adults who get labeled "mentally ill" -- employment for their members, increased budgets from pharmaceutical donations and government grants, and power. This unholy coalition of special interest groups is lobbying Congress in opposition to Congressman Ron Paul's efforts to stop this Orwellian initiative by denying federal funding for it.

Cong. Ron Paul's bill, HR 181: "The Parental Consent Act of 2005" strikes a vital blow for parents who oppose government interference with their parental authority, and strengthens the fundamental right of parents to direct and control the upbringing and education of their children. This bill already has 33 co-sponsors.

Congress is beginning to act to reverse the dangerous and tryannical trend of schools requiring the drugging of children in order to receive an education. In the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal special education law, schools can no longer require that special education students be forcibly drugged with powerful controlled substances like Ritalin and Adderall in order to be in school or receive services.

A separate bill that would would have afforded that same protection to all students passed the US House 425-1, but was blocked in the Senate by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), who appeared to be acting at the behest of the pharmaceutical lobby.

An expanded version of that bill was introduced by Rep. John Kline (R-MN) on April 21st of this year. This legislation would prohibit coercion by schools to require that ANY student be on ANY psychotropic drug. This bill would cover not only controlled substances like Ritalin, but also antidepressants like Prozac that are associated with suicide, violence, and severe withdrawal, as well as antipsychotic medications that cause diabetes in youngsters. This legislation already has 18 co-sponsors and is a priority of the NAACP for this session of Congress.

Needless to say, the huge amount of lobbying resources available to the organizations lobbying against parental right to say no -- have the backing of the pharmaceutical industry.

Criticisms of President Bush's New Freedom Commission's recommendations for mass mental health screening of Americans have come from numerous quarters: parents, physicians, academics, journalists, civil and human rights groups.

Critics have pointed out:

- the stigmatizing nature of screening efforts
- the dubious scientific bases of population screening for disorders with uncertain, in-the-beholder's-eye conditions
-the lack of attention to potential harm from screening
-the intimate involvement of the pharmaceutical industry in the promotion of screening
-the use of screening as a barely-disguised maneuver to increase the number of people taking psychotropic medications such as antidepressants, despite their demonstrated ineffectiveness with children and their huge off-label prescription by physicians.

The story of Aliah, a 13- year-old girl, perfectly illustrates the outcome of mental health screening of children.

After psychologists from the University of Texas visited her school to conduct a mental health screening for sixth- and seventh-grade girls, Aliah's life took a dramatic turn.

Over the next year, Aliah spent a total of nine months in a state hospital and residential treatment facilities. In hospital, she was placed in restraints more than 26 times and medicated -- against her will and without her parents' consent -- with at least 12 different psychiatric drugs, many of
them simultaneously.

Aliah's story was published in Mother Jones which has graciously provided free access to the entire article, "Medicating Aliah," to AHRP and AHRP Infomail recipients.
(Use access code: MJZL6Y).

AHRP asks the organizations who support mental health screening of American children and adults to disclose exactly how much financial support they receive from the pharmaceutical industry.

Citizens Organizations for Ron Paul's Parental Rights bill, HR 181, do not take money from drug companies:

Able Child

American Association of Physicians and Surgeons

Concerned Women for America

Eagle Forum

EdAction.org

International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP)

Psych Rights

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) [pdf]

the Liberty Committee

Mind Freedom

Campaign Partners favorable to screening American children for mental disorders:

. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
. American Psychiatric Association
. American Psychological Association
. CHADD - Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)
. Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health (FFCMH)
. Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
. National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
. National Association of County Behavioral Health Directors (NACBHD)
. National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD)
. National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (NCCBH)
. National Empowerment Center (NEC)
. National Mental Health Association (NMHA)
. National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse
. Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPANUSA)
. United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA)
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Posted on Wednesday, November 24, 2004 - 4:27 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Attempt to stop mandatory mental screening fails
Congressman pushed language requiring parental consent
WorldNetDaily.com
November 24, 2004


An attempt by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, to add language to the omnibus spending bill in Congress to require parental consent for any mental-health screening done to children with federal money has failed.

Nothing could be more repugnant or disrespectful than to force children who are forced to attend government schools to undergo mental health evaluations and/or counseling without parental input and guidance. It is an affront to basic human dignity in my opinion.

The language was proposed to blunt the effect of a program proposed by the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, which President Bush established in 2002. The New Freedom Initiative recommends screening not only for children but eventually for every American.

* * *

The language he hoped to have added to the omnibus bill, which passed on Saturday, was:

"None of the funds made available for State Incentive Grants for Transformation should be used for any programs of mandatory or universal mental-health screening that performs mental-health screening on anyone under 18 years of age without the express, written permission of the parents or legal guardians of each individual involved."

* * *

"We believe the drug companies and the psychiatric establishment convinced Sens. Arlen Specter and Bill Frist to block it," said Kent Snyder, executive director of the Paul-founded Liberty Committee. "We are extremely disappointed that the conference committee ultimately rejected Dr. Paul's language and that it was not added to the omnibus spending bill."

Critics of the mental-health screening plan say it is a thinly veiled attempt by drug companies to provide a wider market for high-priced antidepressants and antipsychotic medication, and puts government in areas of Americans' lives where it does not belong.

Snyder says Paul won't give up on thwarting the screening and will take up the issue again in January when the new Congress convenes.
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Posted on Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - 10:13 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

IL launches compulsory mental health screening for children and pregnant women
By The Illinois Leader Chicago Bureau


See, importantly, Alert on more federal mental health mandates.

CHICAGO -- This week, a series of public forums on a program requiring all pregnant women and children through age 18 years to be tested for mental health needs is being held this week in five different locations statewide.

Mandatory mental health evaluation? I can hardly believe this is happening in America. Shrinks and social workers are not qualified to tell people how to live their lives, especially based on flimsy tests with interpretations based on stereotypes.

One group of parents learned about the state's plans to proceed with this program and on Monday issued an alarm asking for parents and citizens concerned about the new program to voice their opinions at the forums.

* * *

"What if they find a student has a math disorder, a reading disorder. Would that be a mental health disorder, one that would cause the parents to put their children with a drug for a condition they may or may not have?" Trainor asked.

The mental health program will develop a mental health system for "all children ages 0-18 years," provide for screening to "ensure appropriate and culturally relevant assessment of young children's social and emotional development with the use of standardized tools."

This is not about ensuring an appropriate "assessment," it's about ensuring the "appropriate and culturally relevant" rearing of children in accordance with the beliefs and values of those who have degrees in mental health. Who could possibly believe that "assessment" is the only goal?

* * *

Apparently, children's mental health will be assessed along with their academic standards in the new proposed testing. The Illinois State Board of Education has been given the responsibility to develop the appropriate tests, according to last year's legislation.

* * * *

This law should have been dubbed "The Full Employment Of Psychiatrists, Psychologists And Social Workers Act of 2003."
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Knucklesandwich (Knucklesandwich)
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Posted on Tuesday, April 27, 2004 - 1:23 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

From some poster named: "Rock"
"Dear Mr. Moore: I teach in an inner-city school. I cannot count the number of times our social worker has had to speak to a student about suspected child abuse. I have had FOUND (ie.}}} substantiated by DSS) cases of abuse in my students. If all the facts are portrayed accurately, the "couseling" provided to your daughter seems unwarranted. Please remember not all children live in loving homes like yours. School counselors have undoubtedly saved lives by not asking parent permission prior to an interview in suspected abuse cases."

Just a few questions here Rocky-boy:
1.
a. How would you know whether or not the charges were substantiated?
b. How did you obtain the result of a confidential process?
2. Who are you to judge the nature of anyone's home?? -Seems kind of a subjective judgment to me.

The problem with such a dangerously subjective standard of reporting ...a judgment of "suspicion," is that some people evidently not altogether unlike like "Rocky" there, actively look for abuse and suspect it way too often.How else can the fact of huge overreporting be explained? They believe that they have done something noble if they find one case of substantiated abuse no matter how many innocent people they turn in. Never mind the anguish and incredible difficulty that ensues in the lives of the innocent when the DSS Nazis show up and start interviewing.

Now from a far better source on the topic: http://www.aei.org/news/newsID.17965/news_detail.asp

"Child abuse is, of course, a real problem. But is it nineteen times more prevalent today than thirty years ago? That is what the statistics offer. In 1963: 150,000 reported cases. In 1992: 2.9 million.

Now, simply considering the historical trajectory of the treatment of children since the nineteenth century, when child labor--even child slavery--was common, it is hard to believe that the tendency to improved treatment of children has been so radically reversed in one generation.

Plainly it hasn't. What happened then? The first thing that happened was an epidemic of overreporting. Douglas Besharov points out that whereas in 1975, about one-third of child abuse cases were dismissed for lack of evidence, today about two-thirds are dismissed. New York authorities may have considered it a great social advance that between 1979 and 1983, for example, reported cases of child abuse increased by almost fifty percent. But over the same period, the number of substantiated cases actually declined. In other words, the 22,000 increase of reported cases yielded an increase of real cases of less than zero.

Note the contrast. For ordinary crime, to which we have become desensitized, we have defined deviancy down. One measure of this desensitization is underreporting: Two out of every three ordinary crimes is never even reported. Child abuse is precisely the opposite. For child abuse, to which we have become exquisitely oversensitized, deviancy has been correspondingly defined up. One of the measures of oversensitization is overreporting: Whereas two out of every three ordinary crimes is never reported, two out of three reported cases of child abuse never occurred.

The perceived epidemic of child abuse is a compound of many factors. Clearly, overreporting is one. Changing societal standards regarding corporal punishment is another. Using current standards and definitions of child abuse, I dare say that most of my father's generation would be classified as abused.

But beyond the numbers and definitions there is a new ideology of child abuse. Under its influence, the helping professions, committed to the belief in endemic abuse, have encouraged a massive search to find cases, and where they cannot be found, to invent them."

All of the foregoing is to say, not to put too fine a point on it: For all you All you meddling, perverted, DSS types who see abuse everywhere, LISTEN UP: there are a lot of lawyers these days who specialize in finding you quacks and in suing you personally for abuse of families, parents and parental rights. Crawl back into the dark holes of your feverish imaginations where you belong.
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Jerry Moore (Admin)
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Posted on Wednesday, October 08, 2003 - 10:43 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Davis Signs Away Parental Rights Just Before Election

Just before the election, Governor Gray Davis signed a bill into law (SB71), which will allow public schools and teachers to question children at any age about their parents and family, or about personal sexual issues, without parental consent. Before SB71, public schools were required by state law to obtain prior written parental consent before any student could be given or posed any questions regarding sex, family life, morality or religion. The new California law will now only require written notice, which may be placed in a stack of other materials at the beginning of the school year.

Fortunately for parents in California, a federal statute sponsored by President Bush, the No Child Left Behind bill, will still put the requirement of prior written consent on all public schools that receive federal money.

“Governor Davis and his liberal colleagues in the legislature have gutted much of the state law protecting the rights of parents," said Brad Dacus, President of the Pacific Justice Institute. "Nonetheless, we at the Pacific Justice Institute will be aggressively using every federal statute available to ensure their defense. Further, public school districts should consider this notice that we intend to file suit on behalf of any parent that reports a verifiable violation of their rights.”

For information on ongoing parental rights cases being handled by the Pacific Justice Institute, check out our new website at http://www.pacificjustice.org/.
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Jerry Moore (Admin)
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Posted on Friday, August 01, 2003 - 4:29 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Court Hands Down Landmark Parental Rights Decision

San Francisco, CA - In a groundbreaking en banc decision, the Ninth Circuit set new precedence for the protection of parents and children from social workers who abuse their discretion. The en banc decision reversed a three-judge panel decision, and strips social workers of the absolute immunity enjoyed by prosecutors. Because of this case, Miller v. Gammie, social workers will now only have limited, qualified immunity for their actions, similar to police officers. Pacific Justice Institute Affiliate Attorney Donnie Cox assisted with the case.

"This case is about social workers no longer being given the same immunity as prosecutors. For the last fifteen years, they had unfettered discretion to do what they wanted," said Attorney Cox. "They will now be held accountable when they maliciously violate the rights of parents or their children."

"This is a landmark case for increasing the accountability of social workers," said Pacific Justice Institute President Brad Dacus. "After all these years, a social worker will now need to think twice before abusing the rights of parents."






The Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties.

P.O. Box 4366, Citrus Heights, CA 95611
Phone (916) 857-6900 Fax (916) 857-6902 http://www.pacificjustice.org/

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Jerry Moore (Admin)
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Posted on Saturday, June 14, 2003 - 12:04 am:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Anon,

Thank you for taking the time to share this extremely important story. I am aware that many situations like yours exist.

May I note that neither following professional ethics codes nor honoring a request not to have any "school counselor interview [a student] for any reason without prior parental notification and authorization . . ." would prevent students from obtaining access to school counseling services unless the parents choose another provider.

The first step for teachers who become aware of the kind of mental health issues you mentioned is to consult with the parents unless there is a factual and reasonable basis specific to the situation to believe the consultation would endanger the student. The course of action should not be unilaterally decided by the school since parents are the ones ultimately responsible for the student's well-being. Schools can be vigilant without over-stepping the role and responsibilities of parents.

Moreover, it is possible to write a limitation on counseling services that permits student-initiated counseling but not school-initiated counseling. My wife and I did not choose this option for our daughter, although others may wish to leave the door open a little wider than we did.

I sincerely hope that your life is going well and thank you for providing all the information you collected.
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Anonymous
 

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Posted on Friday, June 13, 2003 - 9:29 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)



Mr. Moore:

I understand your frustration at the school's reaction to your daughter's writings in English class. I'm not the world's greatest writer, but I have something important to say. I hope that sharing my story will help you understand why the school responded and why other parents should not be so quick to refuse school counseling services.

I am a Scotia-Glenville graduate. As a high school student, I was, like your daughter, a "conscientious, hard-working, reliable, go-to-church, drug-free, alcohol-free, obedient, top-honor-roll student." I was also clinically depressed and terrified to tell my parents.

I felt sad all the time. I was tired all the time. I couldn't fall asleep at night and could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning. I had trouble finding the joy in anything. I was desperate for close friendships but was terrified to really let people in. At home I lashed out at anyone who tried to come near me. I secretly cried for hours. I wanted to die. I was in agony.

But I couldn't tell my parents. I couldn't disappoint them. Looking back, there was no reason for me to feel that way. My parents have always loved me unconditionally and have given me nothing but support. They would have helped me. But at the time, I was afraid. I couldn't ask for help.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I believed there couldn't be something wrong with me. I didn't want the depressed girl inside me to be me. I feared discovery, and so I continued to do what I thought I should do. I delved into clubs and activities, and did well in school - very well, actually. I ended up in the top 10% or so and ended up going to a nice liberal arts college on a scholarship. At the time I felt lucky to be smart - not so much because of any sort of sense of acomplishment, but because the 90's came without me having to find the energy to earn them.

Over the years I was in high school, I did find a niche, as every kid does. But I always felt alone despite my close group of friends. Somehow they tolerated my spacing out during get-togthers, the evenings spent sobbing on someone's bathroom floor, and the falling asleep at the movies. I really scared them on the school trip out of town when I cried hysterically for hours in a hotel bed and spent half an hour in a hot shower contemplating someone's disposable razor. But for whatever reason my friends kept my secret, too.

Sometimes I'm amazed that I survived. I was suicidal on and off for the better part of six years. At my worst, I would cut myself. "Just in case," I'd say. I had to be sure that if it got to be too much I'd be able to go through with it. In the end, I had an incident at college where I accidentally combined alcohol and over the counter medication - it was an accident but it scared me. For whatever reason, things turned around from there and I lived to tell the tale.

The part of the tale that is important for you to hear, Mr. Moore, is this: I DID TELL. I TOLD MY TEACHERS. I TOLD THEM AND NOBODY DID ANYTHING. I wrote poems about all the ways I'd kill myself. I wrote about shooting myself in front of school on a February morning. I wrote about hanging myself from a tree or a flagpole. I wrote about knives and car crashes and taking pills. I shared these with a few close friends. And a choice few, the less graphic ones, the suicides loosely veiled, I submitted for English class. I HANDED IN DEATH POEMS AND I GOT NO RESPONSE. NOT A SINGLE ADULT IN THAT HIGH SCHOOL BUILDING EVER TALKED TO ME ABOUT IT.

I try not to think about how my life would have changed if someone had intervened. And it's not just that I would have strived for more and achieved more. It's that the relationships in my life will be forever impacted by the depression I experienced during the ages of around 14 to around 22. I learned to deal with people through the lens of depression. And even though I'm not looking at the world that way anymore, I sometimes am not sure how the undepressed me should act.

What I want you to understand is that the adults in schools look out for the well-being of children and adolescents. Instead of criticizing Scotia's staff for overreacting to your daughter's English poem, you should be thanking them for making sure she was OK.

I am happy that your daughter is fine. But you must know that not everyone is so lucky. Some of the kids out there are just like me. And they need the adults in their lives - not just their parents, but their teachers, too - to guarantee their health and safety. For their sake, I hope that counselors continue to ask.



For anyone who may need support, 24-hour crisis services can be accessed from http://www.hopeline.com/ and 1-800-SUICIDE.



Youth Suicide Facts

- Suicide ranks as the third leading cause of death for young people (ages 15-19 and 15-29); only accidents and homicides occur more frequently.
- Each year, there are approximately 12 suicides for every 100,000 adolescents.
- Approximately 12 young people between the ages of 15-24 die every day by suicide.
- Within every 2 hours and 2.5 minutes, a person under the age of 25 completes suicide.
- In 2000, 29,350 people completed suicide. 13.6% of all suicides were committed by persons under the age of 25.
- Whereas suicides account for 1.2% of all deaths in the U.S. annually, they comprise 12.8% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds.
- Suicide rates, for 15-24 year olds, are 300% higher than those of the 1950’s, and remained largely stable at these higher levels between the late 1970’s and the mid 1990’s.
- Suicide rates for those 15-19 years old increased 11% between 1980 and 1997. Suicide rates for those between the ages of 10-14, however, increased 99% between 1980 and 1997. Both age groups have shown small declines in rates in the past two years.
- Firearms remain the most commonly used suicide method among youth, regardless of race or gender, nearly accounting for almost three of five completed suicides.
- Research has shown that the access to and the availability of firearms is a significant factor in the increase of youth suicide.
- The male to female ratio (in 2000) of completed suicides was 3.7: 1 among 10-14 year olds, and 5: 1 among 15-19 year olds, and 6.2: 1 among 20-24 year olds.
- Research has shown that most adolescent suicides occur in the afternoon or early evening and in the teen’s home.
- Although rates vary somewhat by geographic location, within a typical high school classroom, it is likely that three students (one boy and two girls) have made a suicide attempt in the past year.
- Nationwide, nearly one in five high school students have stated on self-report surveys that they have seriously considered attempting suicide during the preceding 12 months.
- A prior suicide attempt is an important risk factor for an eventual completion.
- The typical profile of an adolescent nonfatal suicide attempter is a female who ingests pills; while the profile of the typical completer suicide is a male who dies from a gunshot wound.
- Not all adolescent attempters may admit their intent. Therefore, any deliberate self-harming behaviors should be considered serious and in need of further evaluation.
- Most adolescent suicide attempts are precipitated by interpersonal conflicts. The intent of the behavior appears to be to effect change in the behaviors or attitudes of others.
- Repeat attempters (those making more than one nonlethal attempt) use their behavior as a means of coping with stress and tend to exhibit more chronic symptomology, poorer coping histories, and a higher presence of suicidal and substance abusive behaviors in their family histories.

Many teenagers may display one or more of the problems or “signs” detailed below. The following list describes some potential factors of risk for suicide among youth. If observed, a professional evaluation is strongly recommended:
- Presence of a psychiatric disorder (e.g., depression, drug or alcohol, behavior disorders, conduct disorder [e.g., runs away or has been incarcerated]).
- The expression/communication of thoughts of suicide, death, dying or the afterlife (in a context of sadness, boredom, or negative feelings).
- Impulsive and aggressive behavior; frequent expressions of rage.
- Previous exposure to other’s suicidiality.
- Recent severe stressor (e.g., difficulties in dealing with sexual orientation; unplanned pregnancy or other significant real or impending loss).
- Family loss of instability; significant family conflict.
(American Association of Suicidology)
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Jerry Moore (Admin)
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Posted on Friday, May 23, 2003 - 11:29 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Rock,

Thanks for your message. I prosecuted all the child physical/sexual abuse cases in my jurisdiction when I was an assistant prosecuting attorney.

Whenever an educator has reason to believe a child is being physically or sexually abused, they have an obligation to report it to the appropriate investigating service, often child protective services. That agency then conducts an investigation, which may have counseling aspects, but primarily is a fact-gathering interview.

Whether the initial investigating agency is child protective services or a counselor in the school, I have no problem with them conducting an initial interview on matters involving mandatory reporting without first notifying the parents. Immediately after the interview with the child, the parents should be notified, either to provide information, request an interview, or be served with an arrest warrant.

The issue I'm concerned about is the initiation of evaluative services in the absence of abuse. I am particularly concerned about school counselors following the American School Counselor Association's ethical standards. The standards are regrettably weak on advance parental notification. Still, if school counselors start their initial contact with students by explaining the purpose and scope of the contact, the right of the student to choose a different counselor or non-school counselor, and the right to refuse counseling, or limit its scope, that will address most of my concerns. Unfortunately, none of these preliminary steps were taken before talking with my daughter.

Finally, the best I can do is confirm that I have stated all the facts as I know them. However, it has crossed my mind that perhaps the existence of this website also played a role in the teacher's decision to send my daughter see the school shrink. We'll never know.
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rock (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Friday, May 23, 2003 - 5:39 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Dear Mr. Moore: I teach in an inner-city school. I cannot count the number of times our social worker has had to speak to a student about suspected child abuse. I have had FOUND (ie.}}} substantiated by DSS) cases of abuse in my students. If all the facts are portrayed accurately, the "couseling" provided to your daughter seems unwarranted. Please remember not all children live in loving homes like yours. School counselors have undoubtedly saved lives by not asking parent permission prior to an interview in suspected abuse cases.
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Jerry Moore

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Posted on Monday, November 19, 2001 - 9:06 am:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

S-G Agrees to honor no-counseling request

The S-G school district has decided to honor our request of no-counseling without prior parental authorization, as expressed in this paragraph:

I hereby request that no school counselor interview my daughter for any reason without prior parental notification and authorization, except for scheduling, academics, career/college advising, the classroom curricular component or sequences, or as expressly required by law.

Since the district's practice appears to permit initiating counseling without notifying parents, I believe every parent should file a similar request.

As for the anonymous poster below, the comments reflect the essential biases in institutional schools and clearly prove that no single public school system can meet the needs of all students equally.

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Anonymous

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Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 9:18 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Jerry you are as crazy as your purrrrrfect daughter
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Jerry Moore

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Posted on Monday, October 22, 2001 - 5:29 pm:    Edit Post Delete Post Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Students' Right To Refuse Counseling
Appeal of Board of Education Policy (or lack thereof) pertaining to referrals to school psychologists/social workers


October 22, 2001

Mr. Mike Marcelle
900 Preddice Parkway
Scotia, NY 12302

Greetings,

On March 20, 2001, my daughter was referred to school psychologist Tammy Boyd based on her written response (see appendix) to an English homework assignment given by Mrs. Cassidy requiring her to write a poem revealing personal information with stanza one being written from the perspective of another, and stanza two being written from her own perspective. The poem “had to be real,” meaning it had to be about a personal experience.

It goes without saying that Mrs. Boyd found nothing wrong with our conscientious, hard-working, reliable, go-to-church, drug-free, alcohol-free, obedient, Tae Kwon Do black belt, top-honor-roll student.

Neither Mrs. Cassidy nor Mrs. Boyd, nor anyone else from the school, contacted Ann or I before initiating a counseling interview with our daughter. No meeting was held by anyone to discus whether we should be contacted before the interview. Mrs. Boyd did not inform our daughter of the purposes, goals, techniques, and rules of procedure under which she was to be interviewed. She did not advise her that she had the right to be seen by a counselor of her choice, and that she could discontinue the session at anytime. All of these lapses violate professional ethical codes.

Our daughter was not suspected of violating any school rule. The cause of the referral involved lawful, private choices, having nothing to do with safety issues or mandatory/statutory reporting requirements. Mrs. Boyd’s inquiry violated several paragraphs of the Student Bill of Rights, including “the right to be treated with dignity and respect, and the right to be free of endangerment, harassment, intimidation, fear, and discrimination.” It deprived both her and us the right to due process before making an inquiry into her mental condition. Finally, it attached a totally inappropriate consequense to exercising her “right to express [her] opinions and beliefs as long as they do not interfere with school activities or the rights of others.”

On March 26, I delivered a scathing condemnation of this action to the Board of Education and demanded an investigation, along with the adoption of written policies and practices to prevent such psychological intrusions and inquiries into the lawful activities and choices of students.

On April 30, Dr. Barton, Director of Curriculum, called me. My notes from that call state:

Dr. Barton called and said the school should have notified me before sending K---- to the school psychologist over her homework assignment. She said she expected an answer from the school attorney by Friday about issues like parental notification, parental consent and a protocol for when students are referred to counseling.


I did not hear from Dr. Barton again on this matter.

On August1, I emailed Mr. Marcelle to ask for “a written copy of the district's practice, policy or protocol for making teacher referrals of students to school psychologists without prior parental notification . . .”

During September 12 to 19, Mr. Marcelle provided the following information:

1. A teacher who may have a concern about a student will consult with a guidance counselor, social worker, school psychologist, or building
administrator to have the student observed and/or interviewed to determine if the student needs the additional support from a counselor or social
worker. The teacher and the person who will do the observation/interview should discuss whether or not parents should be notified at this point and who will make the initial contact.

2. If there is a subsequent recommendation for counseling, the Teacher or building administrator should facilitate the recommendation for counseling by discussing the recommendation with the student and by contacting the guidance office to arrange for the counseling.

3. The teacher, guidance counselor or building administrator should contact the parent/legal guardian of the student to discuss the referral and recommendation and his/her assessment of the need for the referral.

4. The teacher, guidance counselor or building administrator should provide the parent/legal guardian with the telephone number of the guidance office to secure any additional information concerning the referral.

A parent/legal guardian objecting to the referral of his/her student to counseling by a teacher, or building administrator should be referred to the
building principal and then to the Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

QUESTION 1: Do S-G's mental health counselors inform students at or before intake for evaluations or other services of the purpose of the session and the procedure that will be followed as outlined by ethical standard A.2.a.?

A.2. Confidentiality

The professional school counselor:

a. Informs the counselee of the purposes, goals, techniques, and rules of procedure under which she/he may receive counseling at or before the time when the counseling relationship is entered.

S-G does not employ mental health counselors. We use social workers, guidance counselors and school psychologists for students who may be experiencing problems that may effect their academic performance. Any students in need of mental health counseling are referred to outside
agencies.

In response to your specific question the answer is "yes".

QUESTION 2: Do S-G's mental health counselors inform students at or before intake for evaluations or other services that they have the right to discontinue counseling services at any time?

A.5. Counselees retain the right to discontinue the counseling relationship at any time.

We do not conduct intakes for evaluations when a social worker, guidance counselor or school psychologist talks to a student about a perceived or real problem. We do inform students that they have the right to discontinue counseling services.


QUESTION 3: Do S-G's mental health counselors offer students the freedom to choose whether to enter into a counseling relationship and to determine which professional(s) will provide counseling?

I understand that practices may be affected by the age and abilities of the student. I am specifically concerned with the policies in effect at the high school.

At the high school, social workers, guidance counselors and school psychologists do offer both choices to students.


These procedures are inadequate to protect the rights of students and parents. Among their many deficiencies, Mr. Marcelle does not list any factors that will be used to determine whether parents will be notified before a school-initiated psychological interview with a student who has not asked for help. This leaves the decision of whether to notify parents to the unfettered and potentially arbitrary discretion of the decision maker.

Moreover, the procedure does not provide for an opportunity for parents to object to non-mandated interviews before contact is initiated. The practice does not require that students be told pre-questioning about the scope and reason for the interview, that they may decline the interview, and discontinue the interview at anytime, and have the interview conducted by someone of their choosing, even outside of school.

Finally, there is no opportunity for parents to file an annual statement forbidding psychological interviews with school counselors. Here is a sample of such a policy from one middle school handbook:

Right to Refuse Counseling Services: Parents have the right to refuse counseling services for their child. If parents do not want their child to access counseling services, they simply need to write a letter or stop by the school to sign a form which indicates that preference. It is the parent's responsibility to renew their wishes in regard to counseling services when the child's home school changes. Refusing counseling services will not exclude students from meeting with a counselor for concerns about scheduling, academics, career/college advising or the classroom curricular component.


As these practices are deficient, and as my daughter is still being given homework assignments that ask for personal information which the school may use against her at anytime without providing minimal due process protection of her rights and our rights as parents, I hereby request a board review of the procedures used for school-initiated counseling referrals without prior parental notification under circumstances that neither involve misconduct nor a violation of any school rule, nor trigger any mandatory/statutory reporting requirements.

I am also attaching a form requesting that no school counselor interview my daughter for any reason without prior parental notification and authorization, except for scheduling, academics, career/college advising, the classroom curricular component or sequences, or as expressly required by law.

You should also know that because of zero-tolerance policies and a general climate that lacks commonsense reasoning, my daughter has been given the following instructions, which I expect you to respect:

Under no circumstances are you to talk with a principal, social worker, psychologist or police officer about any non-academic matter related to information about yourself or another student. DON'T SAY ANYTHING! Tell them that you will only talk with them about these matters after talking with your parents. If they insist on pursuing the matter, tell them you will gladly take an "F," or go to detention, or take a suspension, or go to jail, but you will not talk until you talk with your parents. Tell them you "Take the 5th."

Also, don't sign anything. NOTHING. Tell them you have to talk to your parents first. Schools have been known to have students sign waivers of their rights to hearings.


Finally, I request permission to review my daughter’s academic record to see that none of the incidents related to March 20 appear on her record.

From my perspective, an agreement to honor my request to refuse counseling will take care of this situation. If you are not willing to honor this request, and the Board of Education fails to adopt policies and procedures that I believe will reasonably assure students and parents of their rights, then this matter will be appealed to the Commissioner of Education. In my opinion, the failure to have a Board policy on such an important matter is, by that fact alone, an abuse of discretion.

Thank you for your time.


Sincerely,
Jerry Moore


Cc: BOE




APPENDIX


FANATICAL FELINE

The girl walks into school--
Clothed in a yellow and black spandex unitard.
Not just a unitard, but a spiked collar and a wig, too!
Is she insane?
Why in the world would anyone come to school as a CAT?!
She is crazy!
Gosh, she even acts like she’s a cat!
Must just want a lot of attention . . .
Crazy . . .

Truth is,
I’m a CATS fanatic!
I make costumes for the joy of it.
There’s nothing like feeling feline!
My goal isn’t to attract attention like a magnet attracts metal . . .
But it is nice to have my hard work admired and noticed.
I am a cat in spirit--
And CATS will forever dance in my heart.
Sure I may seen crazy to other, but I don’t mind.
I am who I am--
I’m a terpsichorean girl who’s a CATS fanatic and loves face-paint.
In other words, I’m a fanatical feline--
And I love it!

ADDENDUM, December 2, 2002: As expected by her parents who know her best, she naturally grew out of this phase on her own.




Mr. Mike Marcelle
900 Preddice Parkway
Scotia, NY 12302

Re: Request to Refuse Counseling Services

Mr. Marcelle,

I hereby request that no school counselor interview my daughter for any reason without prior parental notification and authorization, except for scheduling, academics, career/college advising, the classroom curricular component or sequences, or as expressly required by law. Any counseling needs can be met through our health care provider.

Sincerely,
Jerry Moore

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