Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gifts to School Personnel

November 27, 2013

Dear Parents/Guardians, Teachers and Staff,

Re: School Employees and State Ethics Regulations On Gift Giving and Acceptance

The holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day including the observance and celebration of Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanza provides all of us with many opportunities to extend expressions and gifts of thanks, appreciation and best wishes to those, who work closely with our children and families on a daily basis, throughout the year. Many families want to include school personnel in such seasonal expressions of gratitude. As educators, school personnel appreciate support and encouragement from students and their families throughout the year.

There continue to be a number of questions raised as to what is appropriate and what the limits should be relative to gifts to school personnel during the holidays and at other times during the year.

School Committee policy and the State Ethics Commission regulations and advisories to public employees interpreting Massachusetts General Laws (Chapter 268A and 268B) offer us guidance and direction. In December of 2010 the State Ethics Commission approved amendments to 930 CMR 5.00, the regulatory framework for M.G.L. c. 268A, the state’s conflict of interest law. The newly amended 930 CMR 5.00 is now approximately twenty (20) single spaced pages containing changes to many aspects of the conflict of interest law. This letter will focus on the changes that affect gift giving and receiving for public school employees.

The letter and spirit of law, local policy and regulations suggest to us the following:

• The School Committee encourages the writing of letters of appreciation to staff members as a most appropriate way of expressing thanks and encouragement at any time during the year.

• Gifts to benefit classrooms and other school programs rather than individual staff members are appropriate with the understanding, that once given, these gifts become the property of the school and not any individual staff member.  A gift given to a teacher to use solely in the classroom or to buy classroom supplies is not considered a gift personally, and is, therefore, not subject to the $50.00 limit on personal gifts to teachers. Parents may give gifts to the classroom or the school in accordance with school committee policy. A teacher who receives such a gift must keep receipts documenting that the money was used for classroom supplies.

• Gifts for the personal use of a staff member presented by individual families are to be limited to a fair market value of $50.00 in a 365 day year. In order for a school employee to legally accept a gift of any value from a current students they must file a disclosure. Please note that the aggregate $50.00 limit originates from state regulation not local policy.

·  Gifts for the personal use of a staff member by a class as a group gift are allowed up to an aggregated maximum value of $150.00 in a 365 day academic year from current public school students and/or parents as long as the gift is identified only as being from the class, and the identity of givers and the amounts given are not identified to the recipient. In this instance, the employee does not have to make a disclosure. This limit also originates from Ethics Commission Regulations.

• Contributions to charitable organizations in the name of a staff member are permitted without limit.

On behalf of all of our staff, I wish each an every family a holiday season of relaxation, refreshment and renewal. We look forward to working with you on behalf of children throughout the school year.


Bernie Creeden

Superintendent of Schools

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