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Letter: Conflict accusation is not logical

October 18, 2013

Our La Cañada public school district allows its employees — teachers — to teach classes at other non-LCUSD schools during the summer, and tutor students when not enrolled in their classes. These classes are sometimes ones that are offered at LCUSD, though not necessarily in the summer. However, summer school courses can be a full substitute for regular school-year courses.

The school board, and the community, has never had an issue with this because it is legal and allowed under policy, and it has helped many students over the years. Teachers may teach at competing schools with classes that are direct substitutions for LCUSD classes — and this is deemed not a conflict or public-employee competition. It could be argued that LCUSD teachers could encourage students to strengthen or broaden their academic achievement by attending summer school classes, which these teachers themselves then could teach for potentially a higher pay rate than at LCUSD, and can further charge for tutoring those same students during the summer.

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I have a difficult time understanding the logic in accusing one of our current board members (whose business doesn't offer services to LCUSD families) of having a stronger appearance of conflict, causing substitution or competition.

Given the board's, and the community's, rightful approval of teacher policies and practices in this case, there would be a troubling double standard regarding conflict, competition and financial incentives if one finds an appearance of conflict with the board member, as compared to the practices of teachers and counselors being directly paid by other schools for substitutable classes or paid by parents for tutoring and summer college counseling.

Martha Burns
La Cañada Flintridge

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