Family of suicide victim angry, confused after meeting with school district

Published: Saturday, Dec. 22 2012 5:05 p.m. MST

Counselors are trained to recognize students who are having difficulties, she said, and if those difficulties are severe they are required to involve the parents in finding help for the child.

"As soon as you know that a student is a risk to himself or others you are legally obligated to inform the administration," she said.

But she said there is a requirement for disclosure even if students don't exhibit the potential for inflicting harm on themselves or others. If a student speaks with a counselor about an emotional crises of any kind, parental permission is required before a follow-up counseling session can be scheduled.

"A follow-up visit requires that you have permission to continue working with that student," Stevenson said. "If it’s concerning enough that you want to see that student again you need to involve the parent."

Following the shooting, district spokesman Ben Horsley said that school counselors had been meeting regularly with David Phan to discuss issues in his personal life. But the letter from the ACLU claims the family had no knowledge of the school's concerns for his emotional health prior to his death.

Horsley declined to comment on the degree to which the Phan family was made aware of David Phan's meetings with counselors.

The family has stated that their intent is not to point fingers or cast blame, but rather that they hope their son's death will motivate students to report bullying and school officials to take measures to prevent bullying in the future.

"They love that David taught us should leave a legacy where we unite in a common goal to eliminate bullying," Than-Trong said.

Stevenson said that as far as she is aware, the state office of education is not investigating whether Bennion Junior High and Granite School District violated counseling policy. She said she admires the Phan family for trying to promote positive change in the face of tragedy.

"We always want to know what could have been done and really I commend the family for their efforts to try and help future children," she said.

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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