An elementary school teacher who posted offensive photos online and promoted the sale of sex services has been banned from her classroom. Thomas Hayes, 31, was teaching at St. Columb Minor near Newquay, Cornwall before his secret online life was revealed. After the education regulatory industry reviewed the images and sent them to a disciplinary hearing, Heyel was fired from the agency.
He was found guilty of posting or permitting the posting of one or more offensive photos of himself online between February 2020 and July 2020. Heayel was also found to have posted or permitted the posting of one or more photos, messages, and/or comments on the internet offering sexual services for sale during that time. On September 1, 2019, Heyel began working as a teacher at the school until he was fired.
He admitted the allegations and accepted responsibility for his actions, which constituted “unacceptable professional conduct”. Local government members first expressed their concerns on July 7, 2021, and the teacher was fired on July 23. According to the Disciplinary Court, Heyel’s conduct fell significantly below the expectations of the appeal. According to the Daily Mail, the panel believes that Mr. Heyel may be seen by children as a role model for teachers despite there being no evidence students have viewed or accessed the photos online.
Although Mr. Heyel uploaded the photos to a restricted website, the images could still be found using a standard Internet search, and one of the images even had Mr. Heyel’s name on it. As a result, anyone in the public, including students, can access the photos because they are in the public domain. The panel, therefore, concluded that Mr. Heyel’s actions may undermine public perceptions of the teaching profession and that the public interest needs to be considered.
Although the Panel notes Thomas Heayel’s regrets, Heayel’s teaching privileges have been terminated indefinitely. Positive advice has been given, but only to the job Heayel applied for at the school, and no new references have been given since his misconduct. Heayel shall not teach in any English primary school, secondary school, associated youth dormitory or children’s home. The panel concluded that there was little evidence “that Mr. Heyel’s contributions to the industry were long-term or significant”. Two years after the effective date of the order, on July 5, 2024, he can file an application to have the ban invalid. Heayel must then prove to another panel of the teaching regulator that he is fit to do so in order to resume his teaching career.
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