SCASP joins organizations and training institutions around the country in support of social justice.
Dear School Psychology Community,
“Psychologists aspire to recognize and understand historical and contemporary experiences with power, privilege, and oppression. As such, they seek to address institutional barriers and related inequities, disproportionalities, and disparities of law enforcement, administration of criminal justice, educational, mental health, and other systems as they seek to promote justice, human rights, and access to quality and equitable mental and behavioral health services” (APA Multicultural Guidelines).
We recognize, are outraged by, and mourn the deaths of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tante Parker, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and countless other victims of police brutality and racist violence. We recognize that current protests are a response to long-standing systemic injustices that target and disproportionately impact the Black community. These injustices include mass incarceration, inadequate access to quality health care and educational resources, and inequitable access to stable sources of food, safe and affordable housing, and gainful employment.
As school psychologists, we have an ethical responsibility to engage in social justice and antiracist action. School psychology organizations and graduate education programs play an important role in shaping future generations of school psychologists to lead the mental health, educational and research, and advocacy initiatives that promote equity for school personnel, students, families and communities they serve. This is only possible if our field acknowledges, evaluates, and works to reconstruct existing systems, structures, and policies that lead to inequitable outcomes for some groups and not others. “How can the school psychology community serve the diverse society in which we live without explicit and intentional education and growth in this area?” To help answer this question, APA Division 16, Trainers of School Psychologists, Council of Directors of School Psychology Programs, Society for the Study of School Psychology, the American Board of School Psychology, and the National Association of School Psychologists have come together to reaffirm our commitment to ensure current and future school psychologists are empowered to be anti-racist agents of change.
A DECLARATION OF UNDERSTANDING
How can we, as school psychologists, respond to the horrific displays of racism in recent days and weeks, specifically the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd.
OUR ACTION PLAN AS A COMMUNITY
We recognize that statements are not enough and that it is imperative for us, individually and collectively, to work proactively to influence and enact change. Therefore, we provide some suggestions for direct action steps to stand in solidarity with our Black community members, colleagues, friends, and students.
School Psychology’s commitment and mission to advance research, practice, policy and advocacy for education continues. In light of this tragedy, we have a sharpened focus to reduce systemic racism and inequities in schools and communities across our nation. We must take affirmative action through active anti-racist work.
Training, supporting and collaborating with school personnel, parents and other community stakeholders in advancing safe schools that are inclusive of policies addressing racism and other forms of discrimination and actions that embody these policies;
Preparing decision makers to collect information that includes representation from all relevant groups, informed by sources that are fair, and to deliver responses that are culturally sensitive;
Preparing current and future school psychologists to engage in public policy advocacy, even when politically difficult, to combat systemic racism and implicit bias at all levels to foster change; and
Mentoring and supporting researchers of color in research publications
We recommit to addressing these structural and pervasive challenges in our training programs, research, and service activities addressing decision making, representation, sensitivity and fairness.
APA Division 16 School Psychology
Letter to the S. C. Department of Education
We have sent the letter below to the South Carolina Department of Education. We have heard from school psychologists across the state express concern with recent guidance related to face-to-face and virtual assessments. We hope you find the letter useful and we appreciate similar guidance from other state associations such as Florida, Texas, California, and Michigan that guided our response. You can find a PDF copy of the letter and the recommendations document here.
RE: Special Education Evaluations During COVID-19
I am writing on behalf of the South Carolina Association of School Psychologists and school psychologists practicing across the state, in response to the South Carolina Department of Education Memorandum that was sent to District Superintendents on May 4th, 2020 entitled Face-to-Face Services and Support to Students and Families. We are concerned with the guidance that face-to-face assessments, evaluations, and screenings can be considered if agreed upon by districts and parents. The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges in regards to ethical assessment and decision making practices. We ask you to consider the following:
With consideration of the ethical implications and irresponsible assessment practices, the South Carolina Association of School Psychologists strongly recommends upholding the advice provided by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights as follows, "If an evaluation of a student with a disability requires a face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation would need to be delayed until school reopens. Evaluations and re-evaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place while schools are closed, so long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents." We ask that South Carolina adopt similar guidelines during this delicate and uncertain time. In addition, we recognize that a one size fits all approach likely will not work; districts have unique needs. However, we would like to make general recommendations to the various educational stakeholders involved in service provision. We have summarized these recommendations in the attached Recommendations for Stakeholders document. Our goal as school psychologists is to consider the best interests of the students and families we serve, while not abandoning their social, emotional, academic, and mental health needs. We have an ethical responsibility to maintain the highest standard for professional practices in educational and psychological assessment.
SCASP President (on behalf of the SCASP Board)
The South Carolina Association of School Psychologists is a membership organization that empowers school psychologists to advance the learning and mental health of students in South Carolina.