Miss Rusty: 'Head backed my racy book'

MISS Rusty, the teacher sacked for writing a racy book about her pupils, claimed she had the full backing of her head teacher.

Leonora Rustamova is claiming unfair dismissal and breach of contract after being dismissed from Calder High School, Mytholmroyd, in May 2009.

Her book, Stop! Don't Read This, caused a storm of protest after it was published on the internet.

Miss Rustamova's statement, given to reporters at yesterday's Leeds employment tribunal court, claims she had been promoted after working with a group of boys recognised as the most difficult pupils.

She said the boys were overtly racist, violent and misogynistic and in regular trouble with the police.

Her statement said: "It was a fantastic experience working with the

group, developing them and their attitudes and seeing all but one successfully avoid being expelled."

Her head teacher Stephen Ball, who is no longer at the school, gave her enormous support and encouragement until the storm broke, she claimed.

Miss Rustomova said Mr Ball wrote an enthusiastic and encouraging note on the back of an envelope that contained chapters.

It read: "Leonora, thanks for letting me read this. Initially I was not sure about how it would work as a concept but I think it is a triumph."

Miss Rustamova continued with the book, which was not completed until the boys had left school but they all read it when it was.

"The idea of printing out the book came from Stephen Ball around April 2008," she said. "He suggested it would be nice to give each of the boys a bound copy. So I did."

Miss Rustomaova said her husband Denis, who was living in the Czech Republic at the time, said he could get a few copies published using a website.

Twelve printed copies arrived in the post and she had more printed. "I was not aware it may have been publicly available," she said.

The first person to receive a copy was Mr Ball in September 2008 and Miss Rustamova said he praised her for it. Books were then given to the boys and members of staff without concern.

Around Christmas 2008-9 a complaint arose in school and she was suspended in January 2009.

"Until that moment I had a good relationship with Stephen Ball and I was taken very much by surprise by his complete change of attitude," she said.

"He (Mr Ball] knew full well his involvement in the book and had given me much more than mere authority to produce it," she said.

"There had previously been no issue raised about the book being publicly available on the internet and I had no idea that it was or that it had been."

"Stephen Ball constructed a case against me based on the contents of the book and I felt it was unfair of Mr Ball and the governors to hold me responsible for the protest and campaigning that occurred," she said.

The dismissal letter referred to her "reckless disregard for confidentiality and child safeguarding issues".

Miss Rustamova said a responsible, unbiased investigation would not have caused her such unfairness in the use of fabricated evidence.

She has lost her 35,000 salary and with no reference for her 11 years of teaching and the press publicly, she said she had been rendered untouchable even for casual work such as supply teaching.

In her statement, Jean Bradbury, vice chair of governors, said: "We had no doubt Miss Rustamova knew the book she had written was publicly available on the internet and could be freely downloaded.

"We were very concerned Miss Rustamova appeared to have little or no understanding of her responsibilities towards confidentialities and safeguarding.

"We accepted that Mr Ball knew and had approved of part of the material as part of an in-school class project."

Miss Rustamova, known as Miss Rusty, is expected to appear before the tribunal today.