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School counselor notes and FERPA



MN--Are school counselor case notes subject to FERPA and is something parents can request? 

There are 2 different things being told to us and needing the information to make an informed decision to help meet our childs mental health needs at school and home as school has continually fought against having any social emotional needs in the IEP or address them at school saying she is fine and doesn't need them (she has documented anxiety that has affected her ability to be in school).  And now they are implying our child is lying when we questioned why our child isn't seeing the counselor weekly as we were told she would be and is what it states in the health plan attached to the IEP. Child says the counselor quit showing up to see her a few weeks ago and never responded to a request to be seen last week.  They are saying it's due to a mutual decision to end and that she actually did see the counselor on a certain day when she requested to be seen. The child states she never told them she wanted to stop and wanted to keep it. Due to how hard the school fought not to have anything in the IEP regarding social emotional skills and removing the counselor goal and related services I can see them just decide to stop, but our child has not always told the truth on some things either. This though she's been pretty good on as she felt the sessions helped.

Another question I had is when they stopped seeing her, shouldn't we have been notified (it's listed she would see the counselor weekly and as needed in her IHP that is attached to the IEP)? Especially as they were aware this could affect how her private therapy is managed and managing her mental health concerns?



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I'm not sure.  An IHP has no agency to enforce it.  I'm not sure if a school can change it w/o talking to the parent.  It would be best practice to let the parent know if they changed the IHP.  I'm in PA and we have strange rules about mental health services.  One is that at age 14, the child gets to decide about mental health treatments.  I'm not sure if MN has rules like this or how old your child is.  FERPA might prevent you from finding out what was discussed but knowing if your child is meeting w/ the counselor or not should be something you should be aware of since you are coordinating your child's care. 

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(I keep hitting Ctrl Enter like I'm on Facebook to start a new paragraph and it posts my incomplete reply in this forum.)

Misunderstandings do happen.  Your child might have said 'I don't want to see the counselor' when they really meant 'I don't want to see the counselor today'.  That could have been interpreted as 'I don't want to see the counselor anymore'.  One thing I'd ask for is a copy of the IHP to see if the request to not see the counselor is reflected there.  If your child is saying to you that they want to see the counselor, I'd make the school aware of this.  (Do things in writing so there's a paper trail.)  I'm also not sure if talking to the counselor for 2 minutes in  hallway would count as 'seeing the counselor'.  I can envision misunderstandings coming from lots of situations.

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