Teachers Urged to Stay Away from Crowdfunding Websites

(Canto, Ohio) – Teachers often spend their own money on classroom supplies and materials, and education leaders are asking that they avoid turning to crowdfunding resources to cover the cost.

The Stark County Educational Service Center is advising local teachers to stay away from Crowdfunding websites such as GoFundMe, Kickstarter, AdoptAClassroom, YouCaring, and others.  Reports indicate the site – DonorsChoose – has raised more than $621 million for roughly 600,000 classroom projects. Currently, on that site alone, there are nearly 1,000 efforts for classrooms in Ohio.

“There are a few issues with using those sites,” explained Assistant ESC Superintendent, Marty Bowe. He noted the best way to illustrate possible issues is to suggest the ‘what if’ scenarios. “Say a teacher asks for $1,000 for supplies for her room. The money is raised and given to her, but then questions arise as to what the money was spent on. Did she keep the money? Does this violate our ethics laws concerning accepting gifts over $25? Was the money spent on legitimate educational purposes?”

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Bowe added that the sites create an extensive list of issues for both teachers and the schools. “There is little protection for a teacher accused of fraud in those scenarios. Also, there is very little accountability or tracking of the money & materials – that’s something essential when working in a public organization.”

The reminder came following survey results released by Ohio Auditor Dave Yost. The results indicate hundreds of districts across the state have policies on employees utilizing crowdfunding websites.

In the report, Yost recommends that school boards develop policies regulating the use of crowdfunding to avoid potential legal matters and financial liability.  “We applaud our teachers for going above and beyond for our kids,” added Bowe. “They are some of the most generous individuals you will find. We ask them simply to be careful if they choose to use these sites and ensure they have coordinated it with their principal and district Treasurer to follow local Board policy.”

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