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Plaistow teacher banned for faking domestic violence and taking advantage of family death to justify absences

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 December 2019

Portway Primary in Stratford Road, Plaistow. Picture: Google

Portway Primary in Stratford Road, Plaistow. Picture: Google

Archant

A teacher who took advantage of a death in the family to justify school absences has been banned from the profession.

Dionne Bryan was sacked by Portway Primary School in Stratford Road, Plaistow, after admitting a string of allegations including falsifying medical evidence to explain time off.

The 38-year old early years teacher admitted pretending to be qualified and faking a letter from a hospital notifying her of a colposcopy procedure, which didn't happen.

She faked medical certificates, telling Portway she couldn't attend meetings because she was recovering from the op, and went on to falsely claim an absence from May 24-25, 2018, was because she was in the USA for her brother's funeral.

But an obituary and crime stopper's poster showed the person Ms Bryan said was her sibling was actually killed on May 28.

A text message sent to explain another absence from June 4-8, 2018 - again for her brother's funeral - was made from a number in Kingston, Jamaica, not the USA.

But in an email to a Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) conduct panel, Ms Bryan admitted the deceased was in fact her nephew, not her brother.

She was also in Jamaica during dates from June to July, 2018, and not Birmingham where she told Portway she fled due to domestic violence.

Neither the police nor social services had any record of an incident.

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In total, she was absent for 61 days in one school year.

In a letter to the conduct panel Ms Bryan describes what she did as "deceit, lies and misconduct".

She states there is nothing she can say to justify her "despicable" actions, offering an apology to the children, school and staff.

"I look back and do not recognise the person I became," she states.

But the panel found her actions were "deliberate, pre-meditatied and repeated", inflicting "serious cost implications" on the school and abusing its trust.

"[T]aking advantage of a family death, to justify periods of absence, was unforgivable," its report states.

It noted she now volunteers with children and had been considered by Portway as a "competent" teacher and "embryonic leader".

However, she was guilty of "unacceptable" professional conduct and behaving in a way which could bring the teaching profession into disrepute, the report says.

A spokeswoman for Leading Learning Trust, which runs the school, said: "This unfortunate matter has been thoroughly and properly investigated by the trust, which took prompt and effective actions, before reporting the matter in a timely way to the TRA.

"The fact the TRA upheld all the allegations, is a reflection of the effective policies and practice within the trust."


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