Racy Miss Rusty: Teacher was promoted one day and suspended the next

THE West Yorkshire teacher sacked after writing a racy novel about her pupils was notified of promotion the day before she was informed by letter she was being suspended for penning the controversial book, an employment tribunal heard today.

Leonora Rustamova said she was "utterly astonished" at receiving the letter informing her she had been suspended from her job at Calder High School near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.

She told the tribunal in Leeds today she was in "deep shock" for a couple of days and unable to think rationally.

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

Her sacking from the school 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.

Giving evidence, she revealed she was sent a letter by the school informing her that she had been promoted to the role of social cohesion co-ordinator. A day later she received a letter telling her she had been suspended.

She told the hearing: "I was in deep shock for a couple of days. I was utterly astonished. I was not particularly rational for a couple of days."

She was asked if the book was meant for mass circulation and considered a "Jeffrey Archer".

"I would hope not," she replied.

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".

She told the tribunal she had several discussions with head teacher Stephen Ball about the book and he suggested printing copies off for the boys to keep.

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.

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.

Earlier, Robert Good, chairman of governors at Calder High School, said Mrs 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.

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 hearing continues.