Ethics of giving to teachers

by Beth Melo on December 12, 2013

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Superintendent Dr. Charles Gobron issued a reminder last week about the ethics regulations surrounding gifts to public school teachers.

In it, he outlines the financial restrictions around direct gifts to teachers. He also encourages parents to give gifts to the classroom, school or school organizations in a teacher’s name.

If you’re worried that a donation to the school won’t feel personal enough, here are some ideas teachers and students should enjoy:

  • Have your choose something from the teacher’s classroom wish list, wrap it and bring it in to his/her teacher. (The schools generally keep wish lists in the office for parents to check.)
  • Make a Red Apple Award donation in teachers’ names. The Southborough Education Foundation will email a “Red Apple Beastie” created by Mr. LaChance that your child can personalize and present to their teacher.
  • Have your child make a card with a personal note to the teacher. Include an explanation of the gift made in teacher’s name (e.g., a contribution to SOS, a book to the school library.)

Below is Gobron’s December 6th message:

Dear Members of the Northborough – Southborough Community,

Two years ago the State Ethics Commission approved amendments to the regulations under the state’s conflicts of interest law. It is important to remind you about these amendments and how they affect gift giving to school staff members. Teachers and other school members are subject to the laws and regulations regarding conflict of interest and state ethics. Since the statute and Ethics Committee regulations have been in effect for many months and are being enforced, we want to make sure we are fully complying with the rules.

  • School employees may receive gifts valued at less than $50, other than cash, but they must file a disclosure to the Superintendent of any gift from a current student or parent.
  • Under the regulations, a teacher may also accept an aggregate class gift of no more than $150 in value provided that the gift is just stated as being from the class with no disclosure of the identities of the persons who contributed to the gift.
  • In calculating these limits, multiple gifts given or offered within a 365-day period by a single person or a group of persons having a common interest (for example, parents in the same classroom) are aggregated together. This means that families cannot combine resources to purchase a gift with a value of $50 or more, except as allowed under the “class gift” exemption. 
  • It can be uncomfortable for teachers to receive large gifts, or for parents to feel that gifts might be expected. The best gifts are those made or chosen by a child. Thoughtful notes of appreciation are also excellent gifts. Taking the time to write a note or a letter to your child’s teacher expressing your appreciation for his/her work with your child this year means more than anything else.
  • Parents may wish to make a gift to the Northborough Education Foundation, the Southborough Education Foundation, or to any one of the parent groups (PTO, SOS, APTO) in a teacher’s name, or make a lasting gift, such as books for the classroom or for the library.

These conflict of interest rules do not apply to gifts given to the classroom or the school in honor of a teacher. We would appreciate your help in complying with these rules. If you have any questions, please contact your building principal.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Gobron, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

(Image posted to Flickr by asenat29)

1 Tom Abraham December 13, 2013 at 11:04 PM

Back in the 50’s, I remember giving small gifts to Miss Finn, Mrs. Aiken, Mrs. Whitney at Woodward Mem. Elementary. These small gifts were to show appreciation to these teachers not the school system. Lighten up people, this is sad. A child should learn to admire their teacher and appreciate those educators that sacrificed to teach them. Not the administrators that control the system.

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