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The Role of School Social Workers + Counselors

AUTHOR: Former Scottsdale Unified School District Employee Who Wishes to Remain Anonymous
UPDATE:  The author has now gone public and is featured in a Daily Caller article

Transgenderism and the Parents’ Bill of Rights; Suicide and ESSER school safety grants; these are the hot topics that consume social workers and counselors in Arizona schools today.

 

The state government has been awarding federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) School Safety Grants to public and charter K-12 schools for the past few years ostensibly to deal with the suicide crisis that has emerged among students. Arizona also passed an important update to a law in September of last year: the Parents’ Bill of Rights, which gives parents access to all school records regarding their children, including mental health records.

 

I am one of those social workers who was employed by Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) last year under an ESSER School Safety Grant, and I’d like to impart some important advice based on my experiences. (I’ve also been employed under this grant at other schools in this state.)

 

As you can imagine, school administrators and social workers/counselors have grave concerns about the Arizona Parents’ Bill of Rights – of course, the concern has been focused almost exclusively on protecting the growing percentage of students who say they are transgender. At an SUSD social workers’ meeting at the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year, district social workers were told that they did not have to call parents after meeting with students who disclose that they are transgender. Instead, social workers were advised to wait until parents specifically inquired as to whether their children spoke with them. Now, how many parents will even think about asking this question of social workers?

 

Some SUSD administrators advised that social workers and counselors could initiate parent calls, but they should just tell parents everything EXCEPT that their child revealed being transgender. The administrators added that if the parents asked whether their children discussed being transgender, then social workers/counselors would “probably have to admit it”. Once again, how many parents would even think of asking this question?

 

The other important topic, suicidal ideation/intent, is not being dealt with properly either. I have personally received pushback from administrators in SUSD (and other districts) when calling crisis teams and parents after a student has told me he/she is planning suicide. In other words, when I have done my job, as dictated by the School Safety Grants, I have been admonished. I have some theories for why this is happening. Do administrators not want to call attention to mental instability at their schools? Do administrators want school counselors/social workers to focus their efforts more on other things, such as transgender counseling and lunch duty? (Yes, in SUSD, some school campuses require counselors and social workers to work up to 3 hours of lunch duty per day. Duties include acting as a cafeteria monitor and maintaining order and discipline, which is contrary to the role of a counselor/social worker.)

 

Is it also a coincidence that our suicide and transgender rates have skyrocketed after TikTok began attracting youth to online suicide and transgender groups? In my experience, most parents do not even know that these groups exist on TikTok, but this is a topic for another article.

 

My suggestions are for parents to advocate that schools permit social workers and counselors hired under the ESSER School Safety Grants to do what they are paid for: decrease the high suicide rate in students by intervening, when necessary, instead of doing lunch duty and transgender counseling.

- Former Scottsdale Unified Social Worker

Exposing the Arizona School Counselor Association Agenda

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