This is the time of year when kids and parents are choosing a gift for that special teacher – usually in elementary or middle school. But wait – as Bill Maher would say – New Rules! As part of that much touted ethics law passed by the state legislature – lest these gifts be considered a bribe or a conflict of interest – there’s a new interpretation of gifting our public school teachers. With a nod to the story in today’s SUN, here are guidelines for giving:
Here is how changes in the Massachusetts state ethics law affect teachers and other public employees.
* A gift is defined as anything of value that is given without something of equivalent fair-market value being given in return.
* A teacher may not accept a gift or gifts from a current student or a parent over the course of an entire year (365 days) with the combined value of $50 or more.
* Gifts that have a value under $50 are permitted under the law, but may be subject to reporting to the State Ethics Commission on a disclosure form.
*Teachers may accept a group gift or gifts of up to $150 per year, as long as the gift is identified as being from the entire class or group, and the identity of any individual student or parent contributing, and the amounts given by each, are not identified to the teacher.
*Teachers may accept a gift to the classroom that is to be used for the class. That gift becomes the property of the school district.
*Co-workers may exchange gifts of any value.
*Gifts between a supervisor and a subordinate are limited to:
>Gifts other than cash or gift certificates that are valued at less than $10.
>Refreshments shared in the office.
>Personal hospitality in the employee’s home as is customarily provided to personal friends and hostess gifts given in connection with the receipt of personal hospitality.
>Special infrequent occasions, such as marriage, illness, birth or adoption
>Gifts given in connection with the termination of the subordinate-superior relationship, such as transfer, resignation or retirement. Employees can voluntarily solicit or contribute nominal amounts of up to $10 for a group gift to an official superior for special occasions.>A public-school employee may accept gifts of substantial value upon retirement as long as the gift is to recognize the employee’s services generally and are not intended as a reward for any specific, past or official action.
Read Lyle Moran’s full article on gifts to teachers and the need for teachers to file a “disclosure” form here in today’s SUN.