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Context-sensitive ethics in school psychology.

Context-sensitive Approach to Ethical Decision-Making

The purpose of this article is to encourage school psychologists to think carefully and critically about professional ethics by considering a context-sensitive approach to ethical decision-making. We provide background information and a rationale for a context-sensitive approach, followed by case scenarios to illustrate the application of the proposed model.

A context-sensitive approach to resolving ethical challenges is defined as using the context of individual circumstances in ethical decision-making and employing a process of arriving at decisions by considering not only the relevant guidelines in ethical codes, but also the unique interactions of the relevant individuals and systems. Existing decision-making models encourage such a process but fall short of providing guidance for the execution of this approach.

There are a number of reasons why a context-sensitive approach is needed now more than ever before. Shifting demographics have resulted in schools that are culturally and linguistically diverse. Consequently, school psychologists must be sensitive to cultural differences, particularly in the various ways that individuals perceive and respond to challenging ethical dilemmas. Moreover, conventional, Western approaches to ethics are largely based on a paradigm of individualism that may fail to meet the needs of collectivist models (Lutzen, 1997). For example, the mandate to "do no harm" is typically regarded as an obligation that a professional (e.g., physician, psychologist, etc.) has to an individual without regard for others who may potentially be impacted. In school psychology, the focus on the individual can be found in phrases such as, "school psychologists attempt to resolve (conflicts of interests) in a manner that provides the greatest benefit to the client" (NASP, 2010, p. 10). Though the NASP Principles (2010) consider "the rights and welfare of all affected parties," the dominant focus is on the individual (p. 2).

Technological advances are placing new pressures on communication and interaction, and "with each new advance, we risk the potential violation of ethical or legal practice" (Pfohl, 2010, p. 32). Children, families, and schools increasingly rely on communication media that are rapid and easily shared. As a result, old ethical models that were developed prior to the technological revolution may be limited in their capacity to address contemporary concerns. For example, standards regarding confidentiality and security of records may be difficult to apply to the context of the ever-changing technological landscape. While school psychology has always adjusted to changes in technology, the rate of change has never before been so steep.

Finally, a limitation of most decision-making models is the assumption of rational players with objective, impartial reasoning (Lutzen, 1997). A context-sensitive approach recognizes the inherent subjectivity of our work and embraces it. Here we recognize that better ethical decisions are made when we acknowledge subjectivity and take it into consideration when engaging in decision-making processes.


The field of psychology, and school psychology in particular, has developed robust and comprehensive ethical codes, guidelines, and a related body of professional literature (APA, 2010; ISPA, 1990; Jacob and Hartshorne, 2006; NASP, 2010). The ethical standards, codes, and guidelines have largely been effective at setting clear expectations for school psychologists, establishing protections for children, families, and others, and providing a framework for addressing challenges and dilemmas. However, we question the degree to which the existing ethical tools (e.g., codes and decision-making models) are sufficient to meet the challenges of the changing world in which we work and live. In this article we argue in favor of a context-sensitive approach to ethics in school psychology that places ethical decision-making in a framework that takes into consideration critically important variables in professional settings and the lives of children, families, and professional educators. It is our hope that such an approach will enable school psychologists to be proactive and responsive to changes and needs in the field.

In the absence of a context-sensitive approach to ethics in school psychology, practitioners may be at risk for making significant errors in judgment, with serious consequences for children, families, and other educators. For example, the school psychologist who fails to take cultural factors into consideration when trying to resolve an ethical dilemma may inadvertently harm the very people that one is trying to assist. Moreover, the school psychologist who acts without the benefit of a context-specific approach may misunderstand the ethical dilemma, or try to solve one that does not even exist. As school psychologists operate in both the worlds of educational and psychological paradigms, each with their own rich traditions, histories, and ethical/legal foundations, the absence of contextual thinking can result in misguided actions. Given the high stakes, adoption of a context-sensitive approach is a significant issue for the field of school psychology.

Our thinking about ethics in school psychology is shaped in part by Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological systems theory, which proposes that child development is best understood in the context of microsystems (e.g., the family, the school), mesosystems (i.e., interactions across the microsystems), the indirect influence of the more distant exosystem, and the macrosystem of cultural and political factors. By attending to the unique constellation of ecological systems factors for each child, we place ethical decisions in the relevant context. Moreover, those employed as psychologists in schools recognize the ecosystemic nature of such work (Borgelt & Conoley, 1999; Curtis & Stollar, 2002; Lusterman, 1992) and the unique challenges of working with multiple systems (Lasser & Klose, 2007). We do not mean to suggest that Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecosystemic framework is the foundation of a context-specific approach, but rather an example of contextual thinking and conceptualization.

School psychologists are aware that contextual factors are significant. Ball, Pierson, & McIntosh (2011) have articulated the importance of the legislative (e.g., No Child Left Behind) and professional (e.g. NASP and Division 16 of APA) parameters that affect the practice of school psychology. The need for an ecosystemic perspective in assessment and intervention for school psychology has been underscored by Cowan (2011).

Aside from school psychology, social and cognitive psychology have addressed the role of context and provide empirical support for its influence. For example, memories of eyewitness accounts may be influenced by viewing call-in crime show on television (MacLin, Tapscott, & MacLin, 2010). Self-ratings of attractiveness depend on the context of competition (Saad & Gill, 2009), and reported satisfaction in romantic relationships compared to overall life satisfaction may be influenced by the ordering of questions (Puente-Diaz, 2011). Context matters, and a growing body of literature demonstrates its influence on cognition and perception.

Though recognition that both child development and the work of school psychologists are nested in ecosystemic contexts serves as a significant influence on our thinking, the foundation for the proposed perspective comes from another helping profession that has embraced this paradigm. Lutzen (1997) proposed a context-sensitive approach for nursing ethics that can inform the way that school psychologists think about ethical decisions. This approach views ethics as, "an interpersonal activity, set in a context" rather than a set of universal principles, applied mechanically with little regard for cultural, systemic, and interpersonal factors (Lutzen, 1997, p. 218).

Lutzen (1997) advanced the notion of context-sensitive ethics in nursing after observing that nurses were unable to successfully apply traditional frameworks for ethical decision-making, largely due to a recognition that those models assumed an impartial and objective decision-maker. Though traditional models may be adequate for solving hypothetical ethical dilemmas, nurses living and working in real situations are partial and subjective. Lutzen credits her approach to Carol Giligan's (1982) ethics of care and the hermeneutic philosophical ethics of Hans-Georg Gadamer (1983) and argues that in the real world of daily practice, nurses rely much more on the particulars of a given context than they do on decision-making models. Though nursing and school psychology are different fields, they are both helping professions that have significant commonalities (e.g., primary ethical responsibility is to patient/child, ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, etc.). When school psychologists are advised to consult with "colleagues with greater expertise," they are essentially being encouraged to seek out an objective point of view (NASP, 2010, p. 2).

The problem of addressing ethical dilemmas in context has been addressed in the fields of counseling and psychology (Cottone & Claus, 2000; Cottone, 2001). A significant critique of many ethical decision-making models is the reliance on an individual (rather than social) process, though there are some notable exceptions (e.g., Hill, Glaser, & Harden, 1995; Betan, 1997). Ironically, psychologists recognize the importance of social systems, yet typically fail to apply this knowledge to ethical decision-making (Cottone, 2001; Lasser & Klose, 2007). This is not to suggest that a systems approach is absent from psychology, but rather that the application of context to the resolution of ethical problems has not been fully developed. In response to this concern, Cottone (2001) proposed a social constructivism approach to ethical decision-making that relies less on individual processes in favor of an interactive approach that requires negotiating and consensus building, while taking into consideration cultural and social factors.

Given the nature of our work and work setting, we argue that school psychologists could also benefit from an ethical decision-making model that incorporates both a context-sensitive approach (Lutzen, 1997) and a social constructivist perspective (Cottone, 2001). What follows is a brief review of the current status of professional ethics in the field of school psychology (including codes, principles, and ethical decision-making models), a discussion as to why a context-sensitive approach should be applied to school psychology, and case examples to highlight such an approach. We conclude with implications for applied professional ethics in the field.

Current Status Of Professional Ethics In School Psychology

School psychologists primarily work under the ethical code of NASP. However, other codes are considered (Ethical Principles for Psychologists and Code of Conduct of the American Psychological Association, International School Psychology Association). Some state guidelines or rules of practice mirror ethical guidelines but also focus on procedural compliance. In practice, we have multiple codes, standards, rule books, etc. as a reference for ethical decision making.

These codes/guidelines are not the same as decision-making models, of which there are many (see Cottone & Claus, 2000 for a review). It has been noted that making a decision is often listed as a step in the process, but isn't described. We argue that arriving at a decision warrants analysis.

Reviews of Selected Ethical Codes Relevant to School Psychology Practice

The National Association of School Psychologists Principles for Professional Ethics (NASP, 2010) provides four general themes: Respecting the dignity of all persons, professional competence and responsibility, honesty and integrity in interpersonal relationships and responsibility to schools, families, communities, the profession and society. These themes, as well as the codes and decision-making model described below, serve as important guiding themes for ethical practice. Moreover, these tools recognize the importance of context. However, they fall short in their capacity to provide practitioners with guidance for utilizing the context in which specific situations ethical dilemmas arise to make context-based ethical decisions.

The Ethical Principles of Psychologists provided by the American Psychological Association (APA, 2010) provides five general ethical principles: Beneficence and nonmaleficence, fidelity and responsibility, integrity, justice and respect for people's rights and dignity. In the introduction to the document, APA notes that context should be considered when applying ethical guidelines and the interpretation of the guidelines may vary, depending on the context. However, no specific guidelines are given for the process of incorporating the context into ethical decision-making.

The International School Psychology Association (ISPA) created a code of ethical principles that attempts to define general principles that span international, cultural, linguistic and legal contexts. The general tenants of the ISDA ethical code include general principles related to trust, promotion of children's welfare, and high levels of professional competence (ISPA, 1990).

The section of the ISPA ethical code that relates to professional responsibilities provides specific guidelines for assessing the context of psychological services by explicitly stating how aspects of context can be considered in practice. Primary importance is placed on the school psychologist's responsibility to understand the goals and philosophies of the system in which they work (exosystem) and the value systems of the families with whom they work (microsystem). In addition, emphasis is placed on knowledge and sensitivity of the cultural system in which they work (macrosystem). In this respect, the ISPA ethical guidelines provide the most explicit value on considering the context in ethical decision-making, but, again, little guidance is given for how to accomplish this.

We acknowledge that ethical codes for school psychologists address the idea of context and integrate systemic approaches to ethics. However, current versions of the codes do not place sufficient emphasis on contextual factors, nor do they provide school psychologists with sufficient guidance for applying a contextual framework for the resolution of ethical challenges. Simply telling school psychologists to attend to context is insufficient.

Review Of Ethical Decision-Making Models

One of the most frequently used models for ethical decision-making is the eight-step model developed by Geralrd Koocher and Patricia Keith-Spiegel (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 1998). The steps in the process include: Determine if the issue is an ethical one, identify the ethical principle in a specific code, consider factors that may influence decision, consult colleagues, generate alternatives, evaluate consequences of alternatives, make the decision, and implement the decision. The third step, consideration of factors, instructs the decision maker to think about the context in which the ethical dilemma occurs. However, the model falls short providing guidance with respect to how one can thoroughly examine context.

In the NASP reference material, Best Practices in School Psychology, McNamara (2008) presents a flow chart for ethical decision-making. The primary steps in the flow chart include become aware of the dilemma, identify the basis of the conflict, determine options for action, decide on the course of action and evaluate the outcome. The subsets of these primary steps include numerous considerations. However, evaluating the context of the ethical dilemma is not explicitly considered. In fact, in this context, the hierarchy of considerations places the contextual considerations far below that of other considerations. We advocate for a parallel process that pairs contextual factors with each step in a decision-making model.

Thus far, we have presented a case in favor of a context-sensitive approach to ethical decision-making and have noted that though such approach is valued, little guidance is available with respect to the application of such an approach. To illustrate the context-sensitive approach presented, we offer case examples applied to realistic scenarios in school psychology.


Case 1

Eva Burton is a school psychologist in a rural school district. She lives in one of the small towns included in the district. Eva grew up in this same small town and graduated from the high school where she currently works. Some of the teachers, administrators and staff are the same as when Eva attended school. In addition, Eva is active in the community and local church. In the community, Eva is a Girl Scout troop leader and a Sunday school teacher at the church. Recently, Eva was asked to participate in a manifestation determination meeting. The student in question is Liz, a sophomore who has violated the student code of conduct by possessing prescription medication with the intent to distribute on the school campus. Eva was the only school psychologist available to participate in the manifestation determination. Liz's mother works as a secretary in the church where Eva teaches Sunday school and they have been friends since elementary school. In addition, Eva has known Liz since she was a child and was in the Sunday school class and in Eva's Girl Scout troop. Liz's father is a teacher at the regional middle school, where Eva also serves as the school psychologist and Eva has worked closely with him on several cases. Eva is well aware of Liz's parents' strong opinions about teenage drug use as they have been quite active in lobbying the school board for a zero tolerance policy regarding drug related issues in school.

Analysis: Eva's situation seems easy enough to handle at first; she can recuse herself from participation in the manifestation determination since she has multiple dual relationships with the family. Relevant NASP (2010) ethical principles: School psychologists avoid multiple relationships and conflicts of interest that diminish their professional effectiveness (Standard III.4, p. 10); School psychologists refrain from any activity in which conflicts of interest or multiple relationships with a client or a client's family may interfere with professional effectiveness (Standard III.4.2, p. 10). However, the reality is that rural communities often do not have the luxury of multiple qualified participants who can contribute to these decisions. In this example, the context must be carefully examined to determine how Eva might proceed.

At the microsystem level, Eva must evaluate the concerns and ethical issues related to her relationship with Liz and her parents. The analysis continues into the mesosystem as Eva evaluates her how the different relationships interact and how they might influence her decision making in the manifestation determination. Then, exosystem issues must be considered concerning Eva's responsibility to the school for which she works, including creating a safe environment for all students by upholding the student code of conduct. Finally, macrosystem issues that include the local culture and its values related to a zero tolerance policy regarding drugs and schools must be considered. Relevant NASP (2010) ethical principle: School psychologists whose personal or religious beliefs or commitments may influence the nature of their professional services or their willingness to provide certain services inform clients and responsible parties of this fact (Standard III.4.2, p. 10).

To engage in a process of context-sensitive ethical decision-making, Eva should include others in the decision making process. Relevant NASP (2010) ethical principle: 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 (Standard III.2.4, p. 10). She can explain the various ethical principles to school administrators and Liz's parents and then all parties can engage in problem solving to devise a solution that is acceptable. Relevant NASP ethical principle: School psychologists are candid about the nature and scope of their services (Principle III.2, p. 10). By engaging in this process, Eva creates a richer, more ethical approach to the problem, rather than simply deciding to recuse herself from an important service for the student.

Case 2

Jessica Smart is a school psychologist in a large suburban school district. This district has a reputation for cutting edge innovation, especially in the use of technology to enhance instruction and professional practice. Over a period of several years, the district has moved from a paper-based record keeping system to an online system. The final phase of this change was the inclusion of all special education records in the online data management system, including individual psycho-educational evaluations.

Jessica works on one of the elementary campuses in the district. The speech language pathologist (SLP) on the campus comes to Jessica and is very upset. The SLP's child, a middle school student, is in the process of being evaluated for special education eligibility by another school psychologist in the district. Both the SLPs and the school psychologists in the district have access to the school records of all special education students in the district. Because the individual evaluations are written online directly into the data management system, the SLP was able to access a draft of her own child's evaluation. She is not in agreement with the information that she read in the draft report and has asked Jessica to review the draft report so that they can discuss it.

Analysis: Jessica must consider a number of ethical principles in her decision regarding her course of action. There are a number of competing interests in the scenario and it is important for Jessica to consider the context when deciding on her course of action.

Similar to the first example, on first glance, it may seem that Jessica's choice is clear--do not get involved, report the SLP for accessing information inappropriately. However, the consequences of this cut and dry approach could have many negative results.

The microsystem in this case includes the family and child being evaluated and the parent's right to have access to data that is included in the evaluation process. Relevant NASP (2010) ethical principle: School psychologists ensure that parents have appropriate access to the psychological and educational records of their child. Parents have a right to access any and all information that is used to make educational decisions about their child (Standard II.4.4, p. 8). In addition, Jessica may feel an obligation to determine if the child is, in fact, receiving the best evaluation that will guarantee access to appropriate services.

The school campus personnel represent the exosystem in this scenario. Jessica must maintain a working relationship with the SLP on her campus. Relevant NASP (2010) standard: To meet the needs of children and other clients most effectively, school psychologists cooperate with other psychologists and professionals from other disciplines in relationships based on mutual respect (Standard III.3.1, p. 10).

The macrosystem involved includes the district policies that allow confidential information to be accessed by various professionals. Relevant NASP (2010) standards: School psychologists discuss with parents and adult students their rights regarding creation, modification, storage, and disposal of psychological and educational records that result from the provision of services. Parents and adult students are notified of the electronic storage and transmission of personally identifiable school psychological records and the associated risks to privacy; and, school psychologists, in collaboration with administrators and other school staff, work to establish district policies regarding the storage and disposal of school psychological records that are consistent with law and sound professional practice. They advocate for school district policies and practices that safeguard the security of school psychological records while facilitating appropriate parent access to those records (Standard II.4.9, p. 9). Also included is the model and effectiveness of psychological services delivery by other professionals in the district.

The mesosystem includes the interaction of knowledge Jessica may have about the school psychologist who conducted the evaluation, her future interactions with the SLP on her campus, and her feelings about the policies that have resulted in confidential information being available in the online data management system Relevant NASP (2010) standard: School psychologists discuss and/or release confidential information only for professional purposes and only with persons who have a legitimate need to know (Standard I.2.5, p. 5). In order to make an appropriate decision, Jessica must consider all of these factors. If she focuses on only one factor, instead of the interaction of these factors, Jessica could make a decision that would have negative repercussions for one or more of the components of the system involved.

Case 3

Frank Smith is a school psychologist who provides counseling in a middle school in an urban school district. Janell Acada, a school counselor at the same school, spoke to one of the students with whom Frank is working, and was made aware of some family issues. Janell asked Frank to sit with her, the student, and parent to have an open conversation about what the student has discussed in counseling in order to confront the issues of which Janell has been made aware. Frank indicated that, although there may be a time and place for such a conversation, the bounds of confidentiality of the student/ school psychologist relationship would not allow such a conversation to take place. Janell disagreed and was surprised that Frank would not immediately tell the parent everything the student had discussed in counseling sessions. Her words were, "I should never know more about the student than the parent. I tell the parents everything."

Analysis: The microsystem in this case example is the child and his psychological well-being. Frank, the school psychologist, has an ongoing relationship with the student that has specific boundaries regarding information shared in counseling. It would appear that this case is quite straight-forward. Relevant NASP standards: School psychologists respect the right of persons to self-determine whether to disclose private information (Standard I.2.1, p. 5); and, The school psychologist's commitment to protecting the rights and welfare of children is communicated to the school administration, staff, and others as the highest priority in determining services (Standard III.2.3, p. 10). However, if a child or adolescent is in immediate need of assistance, it is permissible to delay the discussion of confidentiality until the immediate crisis is resolved (Standard I.2.3, p. 5). However, consider the parents as part of the microsystem of the child. The parents' values and beliefs should be considered in the context of their understanding of the boundaries and limits of confidentiality. Perhaps the prohibition of the ethical code is too absolute in this context, perhaps not. In making the decision about this ethical dilemma, Frank must consider these aspects of the microsystem context.

The working relationship between Frank and the school counselor represents part of the exosystem in this case example. The NASP (2010) ethical code require that school psychologists work collaboratively with other professionals in the schools and respect the knowledge and skills of other professions. "To meet the needs of children and other clients most effectively, school psychologists cooperate with other psychologists and professionals from other disciplines in relationships based on mutual respect. They encourage and support the use of all resources to serve the interests of students. If a child or other client is receiving similar services from another professional, school psychologists promote coordination of services" (Standard III.3.1, p. 10). This becomes part of an ethical dilemma when the school psychologist and the other professional and significant disagreements about how the conflict should be resolved. The relationship must be examined to evaluate the differing points of view in the context of what is best for the child. If the counselor views the parents as the primary client and the school psychologist views the child as the primary client, then the assumptions underlying these beliefs must be examined.

The macrosystem in this case has to do with the different codes of ethics and professional practice that govern different mental health professionals working within a complex system. In addition, there are campus policies, district policies, state regulations, and family law and education law. Another part of the macrosystem is the interpretation of these various codes by different professionals working in the schools. It may be an assumption that mental health professionals share an understanding or interpretation of the codes, but this assumption may not hold true. Frank must engage in problem solving with the school counselor to examine these contextual issues in order to arrive at a satisfactory resolution to this ethical dilemma. After the professionals engage in problem solving, it is critical to return to the case/student and examine how the potential decision will impact the child and his context. Without that step of returning to the child, the context has not truly been considered in the decision-making.

Mesosystem involves the conflicts between the clinical interests of the child and the conflicts between the interaction of the laws, and varying ethical codes. In other words, at each step of the analysis, the interaction of the relationship with the context must be considered. The relationship is central to the process. The impact of decision on the relationship is secondary only to the well-being of the child.

Implications For The Profession

Adopting a context-sensitive approach in school psychology has a number of implications for the field. We recommend revisions of the ethical codes (e.g., NASP, APA, and ISPA) to explicitly include the need to examine contextual factors when faced with challenging ethical scenarios. Moreover, the codes should reference decision-making models that give clear guidance with respect to utilizing a context-sensitive approach.

Unfortunately, decision-making models in school psychology have not fully addressed context. Therefore, we recommend that these models undergo revisions that incorporate subjectivity and impartiality, as well as the need to take a systems perspective. A good example from another discipline can be found in the Midwives Eco-systemic Model of Ethical Thinking (Foster & Lasser, 2010).

Finally, both pre-service and in-service training of school psychologists should include theoretical instruction and practical application of principles of ethical decision-making that incorporate a context-sensitive approach.


While ethical considerations have been integral to the practice of psychology practically since its inception, there seems to be a continuous "tweaking" of the guidelines, principles, and practice of ethics within the field. Examination of other professions that follow a code of ethics (e.g., medicine, nursing, etc.) would indicate that those of us who practice psychology are not alone in the endeavor to improve the manner in which we consider ethical issues as we work with clients and patients. While APA, NASP, and ISPA have produced ethical standards, codes and guidelines that have generally been effective for setting clear expectations for school psychologists, there seems to be some question as to efficacy when using the existing tools (e.g., codes and decision-making models) to meet the ongoing challenges incurred when practicing within the context of a school system. The need to adhere to ethical guidelines emanates directly from the principles set forth in the Belmont Report; that those of us who work with "human subjects" in any capacity should: 1) have respect for persons, 2) practice beneficence and 3) justly apply to each person we treat an equal share, according to individual need, individual effort, societal contribution, and to each person according to merit (NIH, 1979). However, those of us who specialize as school psychologists have an additional obligation to take an extra measure of care when examining these issues, as we predominantly work with minors who are vulnerable and easily disserved in an ethical sense. The question remains, does a standard ethical code really address those principles in a just manner, particularly when context is not taken into consideration?

This article proposes that, particularly in the school environment, we might best serve students by taking a perspective that recognizes the interpersonal activity imbedded in the eco-systemic nature of our work, and of using context as one important factor to consider when making ethical decisions. We have presented just a few scenarios in which context might play a significant role in making a school-based ethical decision. There exists the possibility of many more examples not examined here that make our argument in favor of a context-sensitive approach to ethics in school psychology even more salient. When practitioners are able to place ethical decision-making in a framework that takes into consideration critically important variables in professional settings and the lives of children, families, and professional educators, they are likely to be able to make more proactive and responsive choices that will be of most benefit to students and their families. As we endeavor to make careful, well considered changes to our way of practicing with this very vulnerable group of clients, we must also be aware of how ethics is evolving in related fields and how these changes and processes might best be applied to the needs of school psychology.

The primary concern addressing ethical dilemmas in context is the inherent difficulty in relying on an individual process. This concern is not unfounded, as contextual decision-making would essentially place the school psychologist in a position of sole arbitrator, rather than relying on the ethical (socially mitigated) guidelines of a non-contextual ethics code process. This will clearly need to be taken into consideration as further discussion on this topic unfolds. As discussed in this text, and explored in the individual case scenarios, there are often instances in which the process of taking context into consideration when making ethical decisions can be not only more sensitive, and in essence more useful, but may also ultimately address the issue at hand in a more comprehensive format as this type of decision-making acknowledges the critical role of situational variables, values, and contextual factors in the process.


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Jon Lasser

Texas State University

Laurie McGarry Klose

Texas State University, San Marcos

Rachel Robillard

Austin Independent School District

Correspondence may be sent to: Jon Lasser, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, TX 78666. Email:

Jon Lasser is a professor and program coordinator of the School Psychology Program at Texas State University. He holds a master's degree in Human Sexuality Education (University of Pennsylvania) and a doctorate in School Psychology (University of Texas). His research interests include applied professional ethics, parenting, and child/ adolescent development. He co-authored School Psychologist as Counselor with Cynthia Plotts (NASP, 2013).

Laurie McGarry Klose completed her doctorate in school psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. After practicing as a school psychologist in California, Massachusetts and Texas for 13 years, she joined the school psychology faculty at Texas State University-San Marcos. She teaches courses in assessment, consultation, ethics and law, counseling techniques and academic and behavioral interventions. Dr. Klose coordinates the University Assessment Clinic and the Clinic for Autism Research, Evaluation Support. Her professional interests include achievement motivation, professional identity and development, assessment and models of ethical decision-making. She is currently the NASP Delegate from Texas and serves on the NASP Government and Professional Relations Committee and Ethical and Professional Practices Committee.

Rachel Robillard is a bilingual Licensed Psychologist and Licensed Specialist in School Psychology in Austin, Texas. She completed her Bachelor's degree, two Master's degrees and a PhD (Educational Psychology) at the University of Texas at Austin, with a two-year post-doctoral fellowship (Neuropsychology) at Texas NeuroRehab Center, Austin. Dr. Robillard's experience includes teaching (elementary school through university level), administration (school and private sector), and running a non-profit organization for at-risk children. Dr. Robillard currently works with the Austin Independent School District coordinating 504 student services for approximately 6,000 of their 89,000 students. She continues to consult with local school districts on bilingual and neuropsychological evaluations through her private practice. She is involved in community activities, has coauthored numerous publications and has presented on a variety of School Psychology and Neuropsychology topics throughout the United States.
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Author:Lasser, Jon; Klose, Laurie McGarry; Robillard, Rachel
Publication:Contemporary School Psychology
Article Type:Report
Date:Jan 1, 2013
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