It’s a classroom outrage!
The city Conflict of Interest Board hit an award-winning Manhattan public school teacher with a $1,800 fine for accepting a used laptop as a gift from parents, city officials said Thursday.
Popular Public School 33 gifted and talented kindergarten teacher Dana Kaplan accepted the gift of a refurbished Apple laptop worth $881 from parents of her students in 2013 after she told them that her personal laptop was broken and she’d be unable to respond to their emails after hours.
So some parents in her class got together and bought her a used computer. But the generous gift intended to help Kaplan communicate with parents blew up in her face.
In March, the dedicated teacher turned the laptop over to school administrators and admitted that she had violated the law by accepting a gift worth over $50 from those over whom she had influence in her city position.
In accepting the gift, Kaplan also violated city regulations that prohibit teachers from accepting gifts from parents unless they are “principally sentimental in nature and of small financial value.”
Kaplan, who started teaching in city schools in 2006 at P.S. 33 in Chelsea, wouldn’t comment on her punishment.
But parents at the school who were unaware of the flap called it a miscarriage of justice.
“I think it’s horrible,” said Jessica Meller, 35, whose two kids attend second and third grade at high-performing P.S. 33.
“Teachers have a really hard job and they’re not paid well,” Meller said. “It seems like a reasonable gift.”
Ismenya Oajput, of Manhattan, said that it’s important for teachers to communicate with parents, and a laptop for sending and receiving emails is a needed tool.
“It’s bad if you can’t communicate with parents,” Oajput said. “Maybe the school should have bought her a laptop.”
Kaplan declined comment.
Kaplan won a “Blackboard Award” for excellence in teaching in 2014. In an acceptance speech for the awards which are sponsored by New York Family magazine, Kaplan tearfully explained that teaching is her dream job.
“Every day is a dream come true for me,” Kaplan said in video of the event posted online. “Every day is a reality I didn’t know could exist.”
Kaplan kept her $82,434 job with the city schools, where she has an otherwise perfectly clean disciplinary record.
City teachers spend an average of $500 of their own money each year on supplies for their classrooms, according to the city teachers union.