Pupils join school protest over teacher suspensions

POLICE were called to a Yorkshire school after hundreds of pupils staged a protest against the suspension of two popular teachers.

More than 250 students demonstrated outside Calder High, Mytholmroyd, in support of English teachers Leonora Rustamova and Steve Cann, prompting neighbours to contact officers.

The pupils, who waved home-made banners and chanted songs for two hours, only stopped when police warned them they were truanting.

Even then, dozens aged between 12 and 18 continued the protest on school grounds.

Ms Rustamova, known to pupils as Miss Rusty, was suspended at the end of January and is being investigated after publishing a book, Stop! Don't Read This, which featured students from the 1,300-pupil school. Mr Cann's suspension is believed to be connected to this issue.

Pupil Calum Paramor, a 16-year-old member of Calderdale's Youth Parliament, said: "This is about standing up for what we believe in and sticking up for someone we care for. Whether Miss Rusty was right or wrong to publish the book is irrelevant.

"This is about an excellent teacher – who got the very best out of every pupil she worked with – being treated appallingly.

"It's nearly two months since she was suspended and we still have not been told what's going on. All we want is for her to be treated fairly and for the school to be more open about what is going on."

Another pupil, Brittany Cartwright, 16, of Todmorden, added: "She's more than a teacher. She's been a counsellor, adviser and friend to me."

Head teacher Stephen Ball said: "I do understand that a group of students wishes to express its support for teachers with whom they have worked for some time.

"In considering the matters under investigation, I will always ensure the wellbeing of our students is paramount. Nothing is more important than their safety and welfare."