Queens Teacher Scolded for Student-Inmate Cards

Melissa Dean taught at P.S. 143

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A public school teacher in Queens is under investigation and off the job after asking her students to write letters to a friend of hers -- a prison inmate in upstate New York. Andrew Siff reports.

    A teacher has received a warning letter from the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board for assigning her fifth graders to write Christmas cards to an inmate.     

    The cards contained the children's names and in some cases addresses. They were intercepted by a corrections officer.

    According to The New York Times, Melissa Dean escaped harsher punishment because she resigned in June.     

    Dean taught at P.S. 143 in Queens. Last December she told her class to write the cards to people who were lonely.     

    Instead, she sent the cards to a friend, John Coccarelli, serving time for illegal weapons possession.

    Prosecutors say he was also charged with possessing child pornography but it was not brought to trial because he pleaded guilty to a charge calling for a longer sentence.

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