BUCHAREST, Romania – Education authorities have fired a teacher who was filmed aggressively demanding gifts from students in a case that has made headlines in Romania, where it is customary to give presents to teachers.
Education Minister Remus Pricopie endorsed the dismissal of Dana Blandu as a "correct decision" because it was illegal for a teacher to demand money as gifts. Her lawyer said she would fight her dismissal.
Police have interviewed Blandu and 20 parents this week. The principal at Bucharest School 10 was fired Thursday.
The case which became public in late December has touched a nerve with Romanians who feel obligated to offer gifts to people in authority to ensure good treatment. However, Blandu's approach shocked Romanians because she apparently blatantly and openly tapped into the fear that students' grades would suffer unless their parents paid up.
Ever since the communist era, students have traditionally offered teachers token gifts such as bunches of flowers or chocolates By law, larger gifts for teachers are organized through the parents' association.
However, in recent years, gift-giving to teachers has become more extravagant and competitive especially at schools in well-heeled urban areas.
Blandu was filmed telling parents she was collecting money for Christmas gifts for bodyguards and cleaning ladies at the school and mocked the traditional gift of "a packet of coffee and a bar of chocolate."
She called parents "sheep," ''potatoes" and "poor." She told one parent. "I really don't know whether you are just poor or uncouth," adding parents should prepare for the next round of gift-giving at Easter.
When a parent who secretly recorded her complained, she retorted: "This is a school for snobs," and that gift-giving was part of the "Romanian, Balkan state system."