Teacher gift policies differ among school districts

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By Erin Eschels
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer

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Emily Byelich’s fifth grade classroom is decorated for Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, students and parents are planning for the perfect teacher’s present. However unknown to most, many school districts actually have policies about what kind of gifts a teacher can accept and how much. Cindy Howe, executive assistant to the superintendent of the Ingham Intermediate School District, said policies are determined by local school districts and differ.

“Periodically, gifts are given to teachers from parents or students around holidays and the conclusion of the school year,” said Superintendent Karl Heidrich of Stockbridge Community Schools. “It is within the parameters of our policy as long as district employees do not receive gifts from vendors, sales representatives, or other like representatives. If something was questionable, the teacher would notify the building principal.”

The policy for Waverly Community schools is similar to that of Stockbridge, as neither district places restrictions on what a staff member can receive.

 “It is the policy of the board that all staff members may accept gifts of nominal value from students or parents,” said Becky Pease, assistant to the superintendent of Waverly Community Schools.

On the other hand, according to the online policies of Leslie Public Schools, district employees must report a gift worth more than $20 and discourages gifts between faculty and students.

Some community members are unaware of gift policies. Parents and teachers have said they didn’t know some schools have restrictions about teacher gifts during holidays.

 “I haven’t heard about our school policy, but it is something that I now want to know, so I’m going to go look it up. Most of the gifts I receive are modest, such as homemade cards or crafts, so I’ve never had a problem,” said Emily Byelich, a fifth grade teacher at Explorer Elementary in Williamston. “When I receive a gift, it just shows that the student appreciates you and it is done out of love, so I can only be very thankful for my students.”

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