Policy on business dealings outlined

Businesses must get the superintendent's permission to talk to employees.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown School District's policy permits many businesses into district schools each year, but school officials never endorse any of those businesses or their products and services.
That's also true regarding a Florida company accused of bilking several district teachers out of thousands of dollars, Superintendent Wendy Webb said.
New Leaf Associates, a New Port Richey, Fla.-based company, was named in a civil lawsuit filed July 7 by Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist. The company is accused of engaging in deceptive business practices.
According to the suit, people were asked to pay New Leaf up front and the company would make their student-loan or credit-card debt disappear without harming credit scores. An associate of the company visited the Youngstown city schools, and it's alleged that several teachers lost money in the venture.
Webb emphasized that the district has an open-door policy regarding businesses that visit. A company that wishes to come to the schools to inform people of its operations or to sell something has to get permission from the superintendent first, Webb said.
Businesses are monitored so that school officials know who's in a building and when, Webb said.
Company representatives can meet with teachers and other staff during breaks or after school, she noted. Those who want to market, sell or promote anything can talk to staff but not students, Webb added.
No obligation
The district receives around 20 and 25 visits from various businesses each year, "99.9 percent of which are on the up and up," she said.
Webb said she can't tell teachers and others what to do, and that they're under no obligation to talk to outside businesses. They have a choice to accept or walk away from what a company has to offer, the superintendent added.
"People have to be astute enough to make good decisions," she said.
Webb said she didn't know how many teachers gave money to New Leaf. Providing information services for businesses is the idea behind having companies visit the district, she said.
Webb advised school personnel to be cautious when approached by someone selling various goods and services.
"I feel bad for anyone who got involved in [New Leaf]," Webb said. "I don't want to see anyone taken advantage of."

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