Removing parental sign offs on merit badges

I am the Council Merit Badge Dean. It was brought to my attention that a Counselor was signing off on merit badges they are not registered for. I emailed the counselor asking them to remove the sign offs but had my hands tied as the person who brought it to my attention wanted to remain anonymous.
Further discussion shows this counselor is signing off on their own Scout who is special needs.

There are quandries as:

  1. Leads the Scout to think they have completed requirements when they have not because of the way Scoutbook breaks down simple 9 requirements into different parts like 32 parts that can shift away from the ā€˜as statedā€™ meaning that an experienced REGISTERED Counselor for that merit badge would see and understand.
  2. The registered counselor cannot removed the incorrect parental sign offs.

I directed an email to the parent who is feeling defensive and not correcting the situation by removing their sign offs. And the Scoutmaster feels uncomfortable knowing the parent is working one-on-one with their Scout to meet the deadline of the Trail-to-Eagle extension.

So how can I resolved this in my role as Council Merit Badge Dean and get those parental sign offs in Scoutbook removed please?

Without having more details - this is more of a policy question for council as it does not directly involve technology - rather personalities.


Iā€™m separating the policy question from the technical question here. For the policy question (i.e. what should be done hereā€¦), youā€™ll have to go to the professional scouters in your council/the impacted district. These forums are prohibited from dealing with policy questions.

Jumping to the technical question, itā€™s unclear exactly what you meant when you wrote that

Is the individual marking them ā€œCompletedā€? ā€œLeader Approvedā€? ā€œCounselor Approvedā€? Each of these has a somewhat different meaning, and different interlocks in the software restricting who can mark them as such in the software.

Marked ā€œCompletedā€ vs ā€œLeader Approvedā€ vs ā€œCounselor Approvedā€
Each of these states means something somewhat different in the software:

  • ā€œCompletedā€ means (according to statements by SUAC personnel in these forums) that the scout believes they have completed the work and are ready to be tested (presumably by the MBC in this case). Anyone with Edit Advancement or Full Control permissions to a scout can mark this box, including the scout, the parent, or a registered scouter.
  • ā€œLeader Approvedā€ means that a registered scouter has indicated that they have seen evidence of completion of the requirements. Only a registered scouter who has Edit Advancement or Full Control permissions to the scout can mark the requirements as such. Presumably in the case of a merit badge, this would be (for example) a signed blue card or a marking as ā€œCounselor Approvedā€ in Scoutbook/IA2.
  • ā€œCounselor Approvedā€ means that the MBC has approved completion of the requirements. Only someone registered as a MBC and connected to the scout for that particular MB can marked the MBC or any requirements ā€œCounselor Approvedā€.

Depending on the answer to that question, there might or might not be a software bug. If the counselor is not actually registered for the merit badges, then the software should be excluding that MBC from marking those badges ā€œCounselor Approvedā€. If the parent is also a registered scouter in the unit, the software canā€™t exclude them from marking things as ā€œLeader Approvedā€, since that depends on the permissions, for which the BSA has specified that Full Control is always provided for parents/guardians. Managing that interaction (parent/guardian as registered scouter) becomes a policy issue that requires local council/CO/unit input.

As @DonovanMcNeil mentioned, without clarification of the technical aspects, itā€™s not clear if thereā€™s a software bug here or not.


And Leader Approved is Officially Approved - with MBC Approval or Without MBC Approval - as not all MBCs want to use Scoutbook.


@UrsulaSeefeld : Guardian at the Gate - Scoutbook Knowledge Base

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So if the Parent is a leader - and the Unit leader has no issue - as long as there is an MBC they are working with it seems all is good

The National Eagle Verification system cares about dates - does not (and never has) looked at who signed or initialed what.

I have seen this several times but thanks for the reminder.

I will need to pull up the graphic and look closer on the three points mentioned. This really clarifies something for me that might be the confusion.



@UrsulaSeefeld to give a little more insight - a NON-Leader Parent can help scout by marking Complete (Ready for Test). A Scout with their own Account can do the same (as an MBC I appreciate that - less communication and I know what to be ready to review.) Only a Leader can mark approved (as in Tested and Passed).


Thank you@Stephen_Hornakā€¦ I was looking all over for that Advancement Statuses chart to see if my saved files were current.

Watching a videoā€¦ it also shows the ā€˜earnedā€™ merit badge as using the same as ā€˜completedā€™ thus adding to this confusion.

I read why a scout would use the Scoutbook as a visual tool to get the percentage of their merit badge status and really get that as Scouts today are very visual.

After putting all these pieces together, I see both sides of the fence need eduating:

  1. Counselors not realizing Scouts can use the green checkmarks as a visual tracker but it does not record anything to the council records. It is NOT an official partial, just a simple visual so the Scout can see how much of the merit badge work they have completed to get the percentage box.

  2. The parent somehow has ā€˜leader approvedā€™ some of the Scouts ā€˜completedā€™ when they are not a Key 3, nor a registered merit badge counselor for that merit badge their child is working on. The 'leader approved should be ā€˜counselor approvedā€™.

  3. There is confusion with the ā€˜green checkmarkā€™ as can also mean ā€˜earnedā€™ when all ther requirements are done with the merit badge. So a Counselor can see this green checkmark within merit badge requirements and see is as the Scout ā€˜earnedā€™ the merit badge requirement (partial) when the reality it is a visual tool (tracker) for the Scout and the counselor still needs to ā€˜Counselor/Leader approvedā€™ the requirement to move them to the blue checkmark.

I need clarificationā€¦ On the green checkmarksā€¦ it means two thingsā€¦

  1. At the end of the merit badge, the merit badge was ā€˜earnedā€™ and the next step is awarded.
  2. It a visual tool tracker within the merit badge requirement showing the Scout feels they have completed the requirements and need the merit badge counselor to approve (test) that the Scout has fully completed the requirement ā€˜as statedā€™.

Negative. The green ā€œCompletedā€ checkmark is just a tracking tool. The blue ā€œLeader Approvedā€ checkmark commits the requirement/advancement/award for the record. The advancement item (or award, as the case may be) can be marked ā€œAwardedā€ by any scouter with Edit Advancement permissions for the scout. That turns the checkmark yellow.

Correct. The green ā€œCompletedā€ checkmark serves this function.

Just a clarification here. The scouter marking ā€œLeader Approvedā€ need not be a Unit Key 3/Key 3 Delegate. That functionality in the Scoutbook interface is available to any registered scouter who is connected to the scout with Edit Advancement permissions or above. Who should have that access is a policy question.

@UrsulaSeefeld - i donā€™t think the guide to advancement mentions merit badge deans those having authority to question or stop the advancement process.

As you mentioned the Guide to Advancement, it specifically says that only a ā€˜registeredā€™ merit badge counselor for that merit badge can sign off on requirements. The person that did the sign off is not a registered merit badge counselor for that badge so their ā€˜leader approvedā€™ should not have happened. The dates are telling to as none of the others that were green checkmarked were ā€˜leader approvedā€™. That person is also not a ā€˜leaderā€™ but a parent.

As part of the Council Advancement Committee we can get things like this corrected and bring to people attention they are not following the Guide to Advancement. It is more likely an error that happened accidentally than purposely so bares looking how it was allowed to happened after understanding all that was posted here which was extremely helpful in seeing all sides of the picture.


Not all MBCs use Scoutbook. Because there are multiple methods to sign off a MB requirement (blue cards, Black Pug, Scoutbook) Scoutbook must have the ability to allow any leader to approve MB requirements. A leader who is not the MBC approving an MB requirement in Scoutbook should see proof an MBC signed off the requirement such as a physical Blue Card.

Unless and until the BSA requires all MBCs to use Scoutbook, the process cannot be chagned.


For your concern, it doesnā€™t apply in this case as both the Scout and registered MBC are using Scoutbook.

The MBC hasnā€™t seen the proof of the requirement thus has not marked the requirement as completed so the parent should not be doing it. The parent does not have the ā€˜leader approvalā€™ per the unit.

I appreciate you making me aware of all situations so I am Be Prepared for the future. I started in one vein for this post, only to be educated on many levels. I thank all of you for the lessons so I can better serve Scouts, MBC and units!


It is not possible, given the architecture of Scoutbook, to do what you want.

This is an education issue within your unit. You need to educate all leaders that unless it is their role in the unit to approve advancement, they should not check the Leader Approved check box. A parent will only see the Leader Approved check box if they are a registered leader with the unit.


What is the scoutā€™s bsa member number (no names please), and which merit badge are you seeing these approvals for?

I do not have the Scoutā€™s BSA number. Now that I fully understand Scoutbookā€™s workings, I will address this directly with the necessary parties to get any ā€˜leader approvedā€™ markings removed. I will also explain to all the purpose of the ā€˜green checkmarkā€™ as the Scoutā€™s visual tracker tool and have those left alone.

Based on this topic, I see a need for a ā€˜Merit Badge Relatedā€™ visual tool that communicates to Scouts, Counselors and Units so they fully understand what can and cannot be used, hoping to put them all on the same page. Since there are many here that understand it best, I will share it here first for feedback.

If the Unit approved the Merit badges and they were awarded there is little to nothing you can do according to the GTA, other than educating for the future - you cannot effect the scouts advancement history