Privacy issues arise with new county-wide counselor sign-up


A student signs into the new countywide counseling office form. The form has raised concerns in the community over student privacy. Photo by Isaac Demarchi.

By Eric Neugeboren

The counseling office now requires students to complete a detailed electronic form each time they visit, in compliance with a new MCPS mandate.

Students must enter their full name, counselor’s name and reason for the visit into their form. Listed reasons include teacher concern, a schedule issue or social and emotional help.

MCPS counseling services originally designed the form to collect data across schools. But the county’s access to all student information and visit history has raised privacy concerns, resource counselor Kari Wislar said.

“I don’t like how the county has access to the names,” Wislar said. “It just feels a little intrusive.”

Some students also expressed concern over privacy.

“When you go to the counselor you expect it to be confidential and that you can talk to them about anything,” sophomore Emma Salafsky said. “But if you have to record everything, it isn’t confidential.”

Sophomore Sara Azimi believes the form could potentially limit how often a student visits a counselor.

“People may not want to go to the counselors because they’re afraid the county is going to know all their info,” Azimi said.

Despite these concerns, Wislar does see the benefit for counselors to see an individual student’s history of visits.

“We can track how many times we’ve seen certain students and look at progress made over those visits,” Wislar said. “So that’s really helpful information.”