Starting with the 2013-2014 school year, Great Neck School District teachers will no longer be permitted to tutor students in their own school building. The policy takes effect on July 1, 2013, but, in actuality, it applies to the upcoming school year. Exceptions may be considered by the superintendent of schools during the coming school year. The school board decision was approved at the March 11 public action meeting, following lengthy discussions, much controversy and four public hearings.
Prior to this revision, school district teachers were permitted to tutor students within their own school buildings, but could not tutor their own students. The revision proposal engendered much controversy, often emotional, on both sides of the issue. While it was announced that that the revision was proposed to avoid the perception of conflict of interest, some parents and some teachers objected, stating that this was an insult to the integrity of the teachers. The board strongly denied this, saying that the present policy could appear to influence conflicts and could cause real or perceived instance of teacher favoritism. Several times the board took the issues back to the policy committee for extended consideration.
It was also noted that, especially in these times of high-stakes testing, the issue of teachers grading such tests could also become a sensitive area. According to board Trustee Susan Healy, chair of the board’s policy committee, there is also the similar issue of tests that teachers in a school write and the resulting access to these papers. She said the policy was developed, “not because there has been any inappropriate actions … but to insure that nothing like that can occur.”
Over the months of discussions, parents and teachers often fought for the right for teachers to choose to teach any students, even those in their own buildings. Parents and teachers raised points such as the benefits of having a tutor teach in a student’s own building and thus be able to know the exact curriculum and know just what tutoring needs are required. And, as well, the point was raised that having a tutor in a student’s own school building could be of comfort to the youngster.
When questions and concerns were raised regarding students with special needs, or even students who might just have one particular need, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Dolan stated that he will review all such cases, and, if necessary, would give approval for a particular teacher to do private individual tutoring for a particular student, but just for the coming 2013-2014 school year.
The Policy on Private Individual Tutoring By Great Neck Faculty now reads as follows:
“The Great Neck Schools provides academic support to students at all grade levels Among the available services are before and after school help time, small group instruction time and study skills centers.
“1. Except under extraordinary circumstances requiring the prior approval of the superintendent, no teacher may offer private individual tutoring (i.e., provide an educational service for a fee) to a student in his/her own building.
“2. Private individual tutoring cannot take place on school grounds before, during or after school hours.
“3. Private individual tutoring shall not take place during times school is in session.”