Marlborough Super Announces Gift Giving Guidelines for Classrooms

The public school system is subject to Massachusetts conflict of interest laws in relation to teachers accepting gifts in the classroom.

The office of Marlborough's superintendent of schools Dr. Anthony Pope issued a statement Monday offering state guidelines in relationship to giving teachers gifts. 

Dear Members of the Marlborough Community,

This past year the State Ethics Commission approved amendments to the regulations under the state’s conflicts of interest law. It is important to let you know 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 are now in effect and are being enforced, we want to make sure we are fully complying with the rules.

  • No Disclosure is required for school employees who may receive gifts valued at less than $50, except for when accepting a gift that would create the appearance of a conflict of interest. For example, if a teacher accepts a $25.00 gift certificate from the parents of a current student, then a disclosure would be required because this situation may create the appearance of a conflict of interest- under such circumstances, a reasonable person, having knowledge of those circumstances, would be entitled to conclude that the teacher could unduly favor the student or be influenced by the parents when performing his or her duties.
  • 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 Marlborough Education Foundation or to any one of the parent groups (PTO) 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.  Please find attached the form needed to file any disclosures. If you have any questions, please contact your building principal.

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