Policies on Tutor Recommendations
Students sometimes require more instruction than a K-12 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, your school should adopt tutoring policies and procedures, consider the use of disclaimers, and seek feedback from students and parents.
Develop a Policy on Recommending Tutors
If your school provides informal recommendations for tutors, 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; this is preferably done by one academic administrator who holds oversight responsibility
- Disclosure of relationships or conflicts of interest between recommenders and tutors
- Whether tutoring will be allowed in school facilities
Decide if Tutors Will Come to Your School
Many boarding schools and some day schools allow tutors to use their facilities. However, this creates a greater legal duty to supervise the process. If your school permits this, it 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.
If, however, you have an independent day school or public school that doesn’t allow tutoring on school premises, make clear that parents are responsible for managing the student-tutor relationship and conducting background checks.
Consider Using Disclaimers
A disclaimer explains the scope of your school’s responsibility and should:
- Clarify that tutors are not school employees.
- Disclose the background checking process, if any.
- Remind parents that your school can’t regulate contact between students and tutors, particularly phone calls, electronic messages, and social media interactions.
Get legal advice when drafting a disclaimer and require parents to sign the disclaimer before using your school-recommended tutor. In addition, if your school operates a Listserv or message board on which parents recommend tutors, you may require a disclaimer to note that these tutors aren’t recommended by your school.
Seek Feedback on Tutors
If your school recommends tutors, establish a process for getting feedback. Centralize the collection of feedback, as well as the process of giving recommendations, to one academic administrator.
Get feedback on individual tutors from students and parents both during and after tutoring services.
Collect feedback on:
- The tutor’s effectiveness
- Respect for proper student/tutor boundaries
- Awkward interactions that could signal inappropriate relationships or misconduct
Seek legal advice on giving or declining to provide future recommendations for a tutor.
About the Author
Alyssa Keehan, Esq.
CPCU, ARM, Director of Risk Management Research & Consulting
Alyssa oversees the development of UE’s risk management content and consulting initiatives, ensuring reliable and trustworthy guidance for our members. Her areas of expertise include campus sexual misconduct, Title IX, threat assessment, campus security, contracts, and risk transfer. She previously handled UE liability claims and held positions in the fields of education and insurance.