Officials: Fifth Grade Class Was Instructed To Write To A Convicted Felon
NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — A Queens teacher is under investigation after assigning her students a controversial project.
Students in Melissa Dean’s fifth grade class wrote personal cards and letters to convicted inmate John Coccarelli, who is allegedly a friend of the teacher.
Parents of students at P.S. 143 told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan that they were less than pleased.
“That’s totally inappropriate for her to have children, minors, sending letters to convicts without parents’ authorization, giving their address to these people,” said Yolanda Perez.
Coccarelli is serving time for criminal contempt and criminal possession of a weapon.
Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott was informed of the incident by Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon.
“She sent 25 cards up there from the students, 11-year-olds, and she also sent a card from herself and a card from her daughter to him,” said Condon.
He added that Dean had the students, “write personal information on the cards, including their names and addresses.”
The Department of Education said that Dean has taught in the city since 2004 and makes $75,000 a year. It is seeking her termination. For the time being she has been reassigned to an office in Long Island City.
Dean declined to speak with investigators and her attorney has not returned any phone calls.
The Department of Correction said that the cards were confiscated by prison authorities and never reached the felon.
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