Some legislators want to boost student privacy online at school. Others sought to reduce student privacy with school counselors. House Bill 1077 would have allowed parents to waive the confidentiality between a school counselor and their children under age 16.
As I understand it, lawyers brought HB 1077 to get counselor-student confidentiality out of the way and allow them to use counseling records in custody battles. Spearfish school counselor Brady Sumners tells me that this confidentiality is essential for doing his job. Confidentiality is not about keeping secrets from parents but building trust so students will explain their problems to him. Sumners says such trust allows him to build a professional relationship with students. Far from seeking to supplant parents with that relationship, Sumners says that once students explain to him what's wrong, he encourages them to bring parents into the loop and involve them in seeking solutions.
One would think that lawyers, who enjoy their own legally protected confidence, would understand the necessity of trust in such a close professional relationship. At least nine members of House Education understand: they voted yesterday to defer House Bill 1077 to the 41st day, which means we won't be hearing any more about it, and counselors may continue to offer students their confidence.