AN English teacher who was sacked from a West Yorkshire school after she wrote a racy novel about her pupils believed she was “innovative”, an employment tribunal has heard.
Leonora Rustamova, 40, who was known as Miss Rusty to her pupils, lost her job after her novel detailed teenage fantasies, violence and a criminal drug den.
Her sacking from Calder High School, near Hebden Bridge, 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 Year 11 pupils – all real students and referred to as Miss Rusty’s favourites.
The story – Stop! Don’t Read This! – appeared on a self-publishing website before it was removed.
Mrs Rustamova, of Salendine Nook, taught for more than 11 years before she lost her job in May 2009.
She claims she was unfairly dismissed and has launched a bid at the employment tribunal in Leeds to win her case.
Jean Bradbury, vice-chair of governors at the school, told the hearing in Leeds: “The book brought the school into disrepute, in large part because the book was available in the public arena and the fact the school was named.”
She added: “We concluded that, far from feeling she had done something wrong, the majority of her evidence was how she was an excellent teacher at the forefront of her profession and she was innovative and that didn’t marry with the concerns we had.”
In a statement presented to the hearing, Mrs Rustamova outlined her difficulties with a group of boys she was teaching at the school.
She decided to write the controversial book as a way of engaging with the youngsters, the hearing was told.
The statement added: “The boys were very proud of the book.
“It raised their self-esteem and self-awareness as well as their interest in literacy.
“To this day they are happy for anyone, anyone to read it.”
She said the idea for printing out the book came from the head teacher, Stephen Ball.
She left the book on his desk with a note reminding him of the “potential issues with the content of the book”.
She said the head praised her and raised no objections.
She claimed he suggested it would be a nice idea to give each of the boys a bound copy when they had left the school.
Mrs Rustamova said the decision to publish the book on the Internet was an “unfortunate mistake”.
She said 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 parents.
“I was not aware that it may have been publicly available,” she added.
The statement continued: “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.
“I couldn’t see why I had to be suspended from my work let alone on conditions that virtually lead to me being under house arrest.
“The suspension was on the basis of an allegation that I had put the book on the internet but that was remedied within the hour and there was no risk to any child and the terms on which I was suspended from then for months were disproportionate and unnecessary.”
She said when she was suspended, Mr Ball “extensively criticised the very same material that he had been so enthusiastic about when he had read the initial chapters I had provided to him”.
“He placed responsibility for the book, its content and its publication solely on me.”
The hearing is expected to last until Friday.