Dear NATS Members,
Many of you may have heard about the interaction the Federal Trade Commission has recently had with NATS. Official notification about this can be found here, but I wanted to take this opportunity to explain some of the process and thinking behind our decisions.
While investigating similar music teacher and trade organizations, the FTC learned that our Code of Ethics contained the statement, “Members will not, either by inducements, innuendos, or inappropriate acts, proselytize students of other teachers.” It seems the questions raised by the FTC were ones of syntax and interpretation. Fair competition among members has never been an issue; indeed there are many examples of professional competition that we nurture and embrace. Nevertheless, we were asked to remove the clause. The board of directors was made fully aware of the dialogue with the FTC, and after much discussion, we approved the settlement. We knew that this implies no culpability, but we also acknowledged that the prohibitive cost of litigation was not in the best interest of our association. We respect the work that the FTC does in promoting free and fair competition, though we suspect their efforts in this case were unnecessary.
NATS is confident that the ethics policy change allows us to address any ethics complaint related to the clause in question through other provisions of our policy. The overall message I hope you will take away is that in our opinion this is a housekeeping matter, and one that will not result in any substantive change in the way NATS operates relative to the standards and expectations of professional behavior. Members are still expected to interact with colleagues and students with utmost integrity.
Please know that the NATS board continually works to be responsible stewards of the association. If there are questions please be in touch with any of our board members, or with Executive Director Allen Henderson, who serves as NATS compliance officer in this matter. Thank you for your understanding and for continually upholding the mission of NATS.