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Teacher accused of making students write to convicted felon

February 15, 2012 1:45:39 PM PST
Some parents in Queens are stunned over the action of an elementary school teacher.

The teacher used students in her class to send handmade holiday cards to her friend, who happens to be a convicted felon serving time in prison.

Authorities say 31-year-old Melissa Dean taught 5th grade at PS 143 for 7 years.

According to a document from the special commission of investigation, she admitted having her 10 and 11 year old students complete a holiday assignment at the end of last year that has parents horrified.

The parents reacted today to Mrs. Dean's class project; make Christmas cards allegedly, for the homeless or for service men and women/

"She suggested they put their names and addresses on the cards if they wanted a return card from whoever they were sending it to," said Richard Condon.

Condon, the special commissioner of investigation for the NYC school district said Dean, actually sent the children's cards with their names and addresses to John Coccarelli.

He's serving 3 years for sending a threatening text to a person who had an order of protection against him.

He was also convicted of gun possession after being found with a loaded pistol.

"She didn't tell the kids, she didn't get permission from the parents, no permission from the school. No one knew she was doing this," adds Condon.

Parents needless to say were furious at the findings.

"This is scary, actually- that children are sending letters to convicts, putting their addresses on envelopes," said Yolanda Perez.

Melissa Dean isn't working at the school now.

In January, when the Department of Education learned of the investigation, officials reassigned her to an administrative position in the central office- away from children.

Now, the department is seeking her termination and the Queens DA is reviewing the case.

The inmate, Coccarelli never received the children's letters.

A correction officer confiscated them before they reached him, and that officer notified the school which kick started the investigation

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