Partnering with a Provider: Contracting with a Provider

Overview: Why is it important to have a contract?

Most districts will require formal contracts to be in place before work with a provider can begin, but even if your district does not, an agreement or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) should be in place before work begins. This helps you and your provider align your expectations and incentives at the outset, preemptively solving problems before they arise.

Before drawing up your contract, check your district’s policies for any limitations on the following:

  • Contract length: Some districts allow multi-year contracts, while others only allow one-year contracts.
  • School-based contracts vs. district-based contracts: Requirements may differ if providers contract directly with each school or with the district as a whole. Both options have advantages and drawbacks, as they tend to have different procurement requirements and guidelines. Consider both options and select the one that works best for your district.

How do you develop a contract, agreement, or memorandum of understanding?

Because drafting a contract involves advice and guidance from legal counsel, a streamlined process can save both time and money for your district and your provider. These are typical steps for drafting a contract:

  • One party (either the district or the tutoring provider) drafts (often a template is available or a previous agreement can be used as a template) an agreement document.
  • The other party reviews the agreement and drafts questions or marks up the document
  • A discussion and/or negotiation ensues between the two parties.
  • The agreement is finalized based on the discussion and negotiation.
  • Both parties sign the agreement, and the partnership can begin.

Many districts will have generic formal agreements pre-drafted by legal counsel that all vendors are required to sign. Regardless of what your district requires, we recommend that you also include partnership expectations to set the foundation for a successful partnership. It should cover the following topics:

  • Scope of work: Specific details of what will be provided to the district should include the number of tutors provided, the number of tutoring hours provided, tutoring schedule, etc.
  • Payment: The payment schedule along with specific amounts or how fees will be calculated should be included in the agreement.
  • Data: The agreement should include information about data sharing and privacy and may require a separate data sharing agreement document (see below).
  • Intellectual property: Intellectual property is especially salient when new instructional materials are being developed for tutoring. The agreement should indicate who owns the rights to materials created or used for tutoring.
  • Termination clauses: The agreement should include conditions under which a party may terminate the agreement and corresponding financial obligations.
  • Requirements for doing work with the district: The agreement should include a requirement that the vendor will follow all laws and regulations in your district (e.g., all tutors and student-facing staff must be fingerprinted).

Why are data-sharing agreements critical?

Given the complexities, rules and regulations around student data, tutoring partnerships that involve the exchange and use of student data should have separate agreements dedicated to data. A data-sharing agreements should include a data privacy and security plan that is compliant with district, state, and federal guidelines.

What should a data-sharing agreement include?

This checklist serves as an overview of the general topics your agreement should cover. Your jurisdiction may also have additional requirements.

  • How will the provider comply with all legal and regulatory requirements?
  • How will the provider’s security plan satisfy its statutory and regulatory obligations?
  • How will the provider’s administrative and operational safeguards and practices protect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and other confidential information from unauthorized use or disclosure?
  • How will the provider ensure that any subcontractors with whom they partner will adhere to federal, state, and district requirements in the agreement to ensure PII remains protected?
  • How will the provider communicate with and train their tutors and other staff on data security and privacy responsibilities to meet all legal requirements?
  • How will the provider respond to any data security and privacy incidents that may compromise PII?
  • How will data be returned, deleted, or destroyed when the contract is terminated or expires?
  • How will data be encrypted in transit and at rest?

This tool is not legal advice, and the exclusion of any particular item from this checklist does not mean you should exclude it from your data-sharing agreement. Read more guidance about Student Data Privacy on the National Student Support Accelerator website, and refer to example data-sharing agreements here and here.