Ex-Teacher Rebuked for Having Students Send Christmas Cards to Prison Inmate

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Former Queens fifth-grade teacher Melissa Dean was chastised in a public letter by the City's Conflicts of Interest board for causing her students to disclose confidential information, including names and addresses, in crayon Christmas letters last December to a prison inmate who in 2008 was charged with possessing child pornography, the Times reports. Officially Dean's offense was the unauthorized disclosure of information (without parental consent), plus the lack of a "DOE purpose for sending the cards." The letters were addressed to John Coccarelli, unbeknownst to the students, who's serving time for violating an order of protection and illegal weapons possession. Dean, who resigned, included her own note in the ill-advised care package that a prison official intercepted — a card signed “from your Wifey” with a heart around it. One wise fifth-grader declined to include her information in the letter because her mom would have been mad, so at least there's a lesson from this public shaming.