By Meg Weston
At its December 3 meeting, the School Committee heard a proposal to the change the schools’ current tutoring policy. Superintendent Jon Sills recommended language to the effect that, in the future, “tutoring for private pay may not be done by a student’s present or former teacher, nor may it be done during the school day nor in a Bedford Public School building.”
According to Sills, when several faculty members who had been asked to tutor for pay brought the issue forward for clarification, the school leadership team decided that the present policy is too broad. Sills cited “boundary issues” and “appropriateness” as concerns, and noted that the main reason for changing the policy is an attempt to be proactive, to “avoid the appearance of real or potential conflicts of interest.” Sills added that it could also communicate a negative impression as well—as he explained, it could look like “[S]omebody’s tutoring because this teacher is just not being effective.”
While School Committee members learned that other school districts have similarly strict policies on tutoring, and that there have been only “a handful” of problems with the current policy, the members expressed concern that changing the tutoring policy would restrict the ability of teachers to legally supplement their income and would dictate how teachers could spend their time out of school.
The School Committee therefore recommended that Town Counsel review the language of the proposed change before taking a vote on the policy.