The teachers of the Norfolk Public Schools deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness and your kindness all year long. They are grateful for the generosity of spirit and of time that you donate to the schools. They also understand that many parents truly wish to give them individual gifts during the holiday season. Unfortunately, regardless of the intent of any gift, the fact is that new state mandated conflict of interest laws put specific restrictions on gifts to teachers that make giving and receiving gifts extremely complicated and difficult. In fact, any gift (or cumulative gifts by a family in a single year) valued at more than $50 cannot be accepted and any gift between $10 and $50 must be disclosed on a written form and kept in the school office. As employees with licenses issued by the state, these laws are binding on all employees in the Norfolk Public Schools. There are a myriad of small exceptions described in intricate language that you can read about on the attached advisory.
Over the past week, you have received at least two emails regarding gift giving in the Norfolk Public Schools. Some of the information has been either inaccurate or unclear. Unfortunately, the relatively new laws regarding gifts to teachers are cumbersome and difficult to interpret, and the resulting confusion extends to all school districts in the state. I realize that these restrictions create difficulties for people who simply want to give their teacher a gift personally and I have attached the text of the Ethics Commission Advisory and the School Committee policy for those of you who may be interested in seeing what is behind all the misunderstanding. What follows are simplified guidelines for acknowledging teachers that you may wish to consider:
If you want to acknowledge a teacher, you may give a gift to the Norfolk Public Schools or to any charity you choose in the name of the teacher. If you decide to donate to the NPS, you may do so by writing a check to the Norfolk Public Schools Gift Account and giving the check to the teacher or the principal. There are no restrictions on such donations because they do not go directly to an individual. Funds donated to the school gift account will be used by principals in the best interest of children but such funds will not be explicitly redirected to individual teachers.
I thank you all for your many kindnesses and extend my best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season to each of you and your families.