BOE approves limits for teacher gifts

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Lifestyles Editor

The Shelby County Board of Education voted Dec. 15 to allow teachers to receive collective gift cards from their classrooms.

The unanimous decision allows students to pool their money to purchase a single gift card for a teacher.

The vote comes on the heels of an advisory opinion issued Dec. 7 by the Alabama Ethics Commission limiting the types of gifts students can give teachers.

“I think this a great move by our board,” Superintendent Randy Fuller said.

The Commission stated that all gifts or individual contributions to a gift card must be of “de minimus,” or little, value.

The Commission included the following list as acceptable gifts for teachers:

* Fruit baskets, homemade cookies, etc.

* Christmas ornaments of little intrinsic value

* Coffee mugs filled with candy or of a holiday nature.

* Any item that the teacher may use to assist him/her in performing his or her functions as a teacher, such as notebooks, school supplies, etc.

* CDs or books of a nominal value, scarves, etc.

The Board voted that gifts and individual donations to a gift card must be voluntary and cannot exceed $10.

The opinion issued by the Ethics Commission followed months of speculation about what gifts will be allowed for teachers after the Alabama Legislature passed stricter ethics laws that went into effect this year.

In other business, the board also voted to approve several candidates for open positions in the school system.

* Jenise Hampton was approved as the Federal Programs Supervisor. Hampton has 13 years as an educator and is currently the assistant principal of Opelika City Schools.

* David Calhoun was approved as the Student Services Coordinator. Calhoun has 22 years experience in the Shelby County School systems and is currently the Student Services Supervisor.

* Debbie Horton was approved as the Oak Mountain Elementary School principal. Horton has been an educator for 18 years and is currently the assistant principal at Valley Intermediate School.

* Stephen Kearly was approved was the Helena Elementary School Assistant Principal. Kearly has more than 10 years experience and is currently the Library Media Specialist at Elvin Hill Elementary School.