Police: Teacher had kids write to jail

NEW YORK, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- Officials say a Queens, N.Y., elementary school teacher may lose her job for allegedly having her students write holiday cards to her boyfriend in jail.

Melissa Dean allegedly told her students at P.S. 143 they were going to make cards for someone who was lonely over the holidays. That someone was John Coccarelli, 33, who is serving prison time on charges of violating a restraining order filed against him by his ex-wife, the New York Post reported.


Coccarelli's criminal record raises particular alarms for parents, as he was arrested and charged in the past for possession of child pornography, as well as possession of a loaded semiautomatic weapon, the New York Daily News reported.

Richard Condon, Special Commissioner of Investigation says Dean is likely to lose her job over this.

"She didn't have the school's permission. She didn't have the parents' permission. The children don't know they were sending these cards to someone who was an inmate in a correctional facility," he said. "She was exposing these children -- their names and addresses -- to someone who was in prison."

Dean has visited Cocarelli 11 times and called him on the phone over 327 times, and even wrote him her own holiday card signed "from your Wifey Melissa," police alleged. Parents are calling for her immediate dismissal.


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