Teacher who wrote racy novel 'made serious error'

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The Independent Online

A teacher who was sacked after she wrote a racy novel about her pupils made a "serious error of judgment" in allowing the book to be published on the internet, an employment tribunal heard today.









Robert Good, chairman of governors at Calder High School, said Leonora Rustamova failed in her core responsibility of safeguarding children.



He said he accepted the novel was a "risky" school project with some advantages for the children involved, but said Mrs Rustamova made a serious error in allowing the book to remain on the internet for four months and publicly accessible.



Mrs Rustamova, 40, known as Miss Rusty to her pupils, lost her job after her book detailed teenage fantasies, violence and a criminal drug den.



Her sacking from the school near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, prompted demonstrations by pupils and a campaign by parents to have her reinstated.



The book, which is peppered with expletives, names several teachers and features five Year 11 pupils - all real students and referred to as Miss Rusty's favourites.



One pupil is referred to as fantasising and flirting with Mrs Rustamova.



The story - Stop! Don't Read This! - originally appeared on a self-publishing website before it was removed. Mrs Rustamova taught for more than 11 years before she lost her job in May 2009.



Mr Good told the tribunal in Leeds: "What I was concerned about was the judgment decision ... to allow it to remain on the internet for four months.



"It was her judgment in my mind. It was a serious error of judgment and against all safeguarding policies."



Mr Good interviewed Mrs Rustamova as part of the disciplinary process and approved her sacking. He recalled how she admitted in interview how she had made a mistake and her "life was in ruins".



He added: "What she was saying was, 'I have made a mistake'. She was a professional teacher and she has to somehow or other be responsible for the decision she has taken."



The tribunal has heard how Mrs Rustamova decided to write the controversial book as a way of engaging with a group of difficult youngsters at the school.



Mrs Rustamova said the decision to publish the book on the internet was an "unfortunate mistake".



Her husband Denis, who had worked in publishing, used a self-publishing website and the idea was to use the site to facilitate the process of printing off copies for the children, teachers and even family members.



"I was not aware that it may have been publicly available," she added.



Her statement said: "If the book had been publicly available on the internet then this was an unfortunate mistake, but I was not aware of any damage actually being caused."



Mrs Rustamova is claiming unfair dismissal.

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