Ala. Ethics Law Restricts Gifts To Teachers

Dec 15, 2011
Originally published on December 15, 2011 6:00 am
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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Teachers just starting out in their jobs often get gifts this time of year from students. But in Alabama, a teacher who accepts almost any present from a student could theoretically get jail time. That's because of a new ethics law, a law the governor now wants changed. From the Southern education desk at member station WBHM in Birmingham, Dan Carson reports.

DAN CARSON, BYLINE: Unintended consequences seem to be in Governor Robert Bentley's job description. First, there was fallout from Alabama's immigration law. Now he's asking lawmakers to amend a new ethics law that severely restricts gifts to teachers.

GOVERNOR ROBERT BENTLEY: I just don't believe that anyone ever intended to punish teachers or punish children. Teachers need to be exempt.

CARSON: Designed to stem corruption, the vague law bans gifts of significant value to all public employees. The Alabama Ethics Commission tried to clarify the law, but did not provide a dollar figure. So how much should a family spend on a gift card? Parents and teachers are stumped. State lawmakers say they will sponsor a bill to ensure teacher gifts are legal.

For NPR News in Birmingham, Alabama, I'm Dan Carson. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.