By Associated Press - Wednesday, January 4, 2017

HONOLULU (AP) - A teachers union has reached an agreement with the state’s Ethics Commission on new guidelines for teachers who receive free travel to serve as chaperones on school-related trips.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association, which represents 13,500 teachers, announced Tuesday it had worked out a resolution to the long-standing dispute over the matter.

Under the agreement, teachers will still be allowed to plan trips and serve as chaperones with private tour companies, which typically allow one chaperone to travel at no cost for every eight or 10 students who pay for the trip.

But teachers who travel for free are now required to inform students and their families that their travel costs are being paid for. They also are prohibited from accepting any personal perks for the leading the trip, such as tablet computers.

The school trips must be in line with Department of Education policies, which require all trips to have educational benefits “that are clearly linked to and support ongoing standards-based classroom studies.”

Kathryn Matayoshi, superintendent of Hawaii schools, voiced her support for the agreement in a Tuesday statement.

“We’re pleased about this news and look forward to working with the Board of Education in creating clear guidance for our schools to ensure these trips meet the requirements of the Ethics Commission,” Matayoshi said.

In August 2015, the Ethics Commission issued an advisory opinion saying teachers risked violating the ethics code by accepting free travel to accompany students on school outings, KHON-TV reported. More than 30 class trips statewide were canceled because of the decision before a Circuit Court judge tossed out the commission’s opinion in June.

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