Great Neck puts off policy on teachers tutoring

Great Neck South Middle School is located at Great Neck South Middle School is located at 349 Lakeville Rd. in Great Neck. (Aug. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Brittany Wait

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The Great Neck school board has postponed voting on a controversial policy that would keep teachers from privately tutoring students who attend school in their buildings.

The proposal, which first surfaced last year, would specifically prohibit them from offering tutoring for a fee to students who attend classes in the building where the teachers work, except under unnamed "extraordinary circumstances" that require approval from the district's superintendent. The vote on the policy, which would have gone into effect July 1, was postponed Monday.

Trustee Susan Healy said the proposal was not in response to any specific incident.

"The policy is being revised proactively to avoid any situation that could be perceived as a potential conflict of interest," she said.

Several speakers objected to the proposal and urged the board to delay its vote.

"It seems in a way that we're trying to fix a problem which has not been identified," said a parent, Michelle Schecter. "I think this is somewhat of an affront and an insult to the integrity of the teachers."

Ann Lesser, another parent in the district, said the board should consider the needs of students who rely on tutoring to keep from failing at school.

"In that situation . . . it's a special relationship" between the tutor and student, Lesser said.

Board president Barbara Berkowitz said the policy was drafted in response to requests from the district's administrators, who aren't opposed to teachers privately tutoring students from other buildings.

"We're not in any way saying: 'Don't hire a tutor. We don't believe in tutoring,' " Berkowitz said. "That's not the intent of this policy at all."

The board decided to discuss the issue at its next policy committee meeting, and plans to bring a revised proposal back in March or April.

"We're not rushing," Berkowitz said. "We're not going to do this until we're as satisfied or content as we can be."

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