SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – A crowdfunding campaign to support Clark County teachers hit a small bump in the road. The ‘Adopt a Clark County Teacher’ Facebook group connected community members with teachers in need. The teachers would share what they needed for the school year and good Samaritans would “adopt” a teacher to provide the supplies to. The group was created a week ago and already has more than 1,000 participating members.
“The teachers already spend a crapload of money throughout the year on our children. This year they just tacked on Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer…If we don’t provide [those supplies] as a community, these teachers are going to get it regardless. If we can step in and at least try to alleviate that cost on them then we’re happy to do it,” said Heather Stewart-Rigsbee, the creator of the Adopt a Clark County Teacher campaign.
Thursday, the Springfield City School District released an email saying that, while they were thankful to the community for stepping up to provide the donations, this crowdfunding effort violated the district’s crowdfunding policy (G:GBIA-R (Also IGDFA-R)). The policy, written in 2017 and updated in 2020 establishes rules and parameters for anyone in the school district soliciting funds or donations.
According to the Ohio Auditor’s Office, crowdfunding could present legal risks for teachers and school districts. In 2018, the office released a report explaining the dangers of crowdfunding with no school policies and encouraged all Ohio school districts to create a policy for crowdfunding.
In Springfield, Donor Choose is the only approved vendor for crowdfunding. However, because this campaign had already provided gifts for almost 100 teachers, the district made a one-time only allowance, provided the teachers and staff who received the gifts followed the following guidelines: writing a “thank you” letter to the donor, reporting the estimated value of the gift to the district, and having the gifts delivered to the school address instead of their personal address.
A statement from Springfield City School District to 2 News says “In an effort to find a compromise and support our teachers, while protecting them from potential violations of their employment contract, the Ohio Licensure Code of Professional Conduct, and the legal ramifications associated with the state auditor for both the District and the employee, the forms were created and shared.”
“I get where they’re coming from, I’m not upset by it, and I don’t think the teachers are either,” said Stewart-Rigsbee.