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    August 2013

    Recommending Tutors at K-12 Schools

    Students sometimes require more instruction than a school can provide. In search of extra academic help, parents often turn to teachers and administrators for tutor recommendations. Although students often benefit from these recommendations, issues such as improper relationships or poor tutoring can arise. To manage those risks, United Educators (UE) recommends that schools adopt tutoring policies and procedures, consider the use of disclaimers, and seek feedback from students and parents.


    Develop a Policy on Recommending Tutors

    Many schools provide informal recommendations for tutors. Schools should formalize this process in a written policy that addresses:

    • Whether the school will maintain a list of recommended tutors
    • The approval process for recommending tutors
    • How to respond to recommendation requests; preferably this is done by one academic administrator who holds oversight responsibility
    • Disclosure of relationships or conflicts of interest between recommender and tutor
    • Whether tutoring will be allowed in school facilities

    Decide if Tutors Will Come to Your School

    Allowing Tutors on Campus

    Many boarding schools and some day schools allow tutors to use their facilities. However, this creates a greater legal duty to supervise the process and the school should:

    • Conduct background checks on tutors
    • Establish a sign-in and sign-out process for tutors
    • Create a designated and open meeting area for tutoring
    • Explain to parents the precautions taken (for example, extent of background checks)
    • Educate students and tutors about proper boundaries for their interaction

    Keeping Tutors off Campus

    Many independent day schools and public schools do not allow tutoring on school premises. In this case, schools should be clear that parents are responsible for managing the student-tutor relationship and conducting any background checks.


    Consider Using Disclaimers

    A disclaimer explains the scope of the school's responsibility and should:

    • Clarify that tutors are not school employees
    • Disclose the background checking process, if any
    • Remind parents that the school cannot regulate contact between students and tutors, particularly phone calls, electronic messages, and social media interactions

    UE recommends that schools obtain legal advice when drafting a disclaimer and require parents to sign the disclaimer before using a school recommended tutor. In addition, if the school operates a Listserv or message board on which parents recommend tutors, a disclaimer may be required to note that these tutors are not recommended by the school.


    Seek Feedback on Tutors

    Schools that recommend tutors should establish a process for obtaining feedback. UE suggests centralizing the collection of feedback, as well as the process of giving recommendations, to one academic administrator. Feedback on individual tutors should be obtained from students and parents both during and after tutoring services. Be sure to collect feedback on the tutor's effectiveness, respect for proper student/tutor boundaries, and any awkward interactions that could signal inappropriate relationships or misconduct. Schools are urged to seek legal advice on giving or declining to provide future recommendations for a tutor.


    Resources

    Roundtable Reference Materials: Background Checks - Risks and Best Practices
    Independent School News: Background Checks
    Sexual Misconduct: A Manager's Guide to Prevention and Response
    Edina Public Schools: Tutoring Policy, Tutor Application, and Parent Release


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