Lesbian teacher banned from profession after bombarding colleague with explicit messages


A teacher sacked for threatening to stab a pupil has been banned from the profession – after bombarding a female colleague with gifts and sexually explicit messages.

Disgraced former English teacher Trell O’Hara harassed Karen Smith over a period of six months – sending her sexual notes, romantic poetry and a dozen red roses.

She even bought Mrs Smith – the head of English at her former school – a solitaire ring and left phone messages under false names in order to get her to call.

A panel at the General Teaching Council (GTC), in Birmingham, found O’Hara guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and banned her from teaching yesterday.

The committee heard O’Hara had been employed at College High School, Erdington, Birmingham, in 2005 as a Newly Qualified Teacher in the English department.

But in March 2007, after disciplinary proceedings, she was dismissed for gross misconduct – following an incident where she threatened to stab a pupil in her class.

Students told her dismissal tribunal that they had heard her hurl foul and abusive language at kids, including calling one 13-year-old boy by a four-letter word.

A GTC hearing four years ago found her guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and imposed an official reprimand on her record for two years.

This week’s GTC hearing was told Mrs Smith, her line manager, was not involved in the disciplinary proceedings.

But between February 2009 and July 2009 O’Hara pursued a campaign of harassment against her.

The teaching panel heard that O’Hara left her a telephone message on February 24 and under a false name in order to get Mrs Smith to contact her.

Miss O’Hara said she wanted to discuss everything that had happened – but when Mrs Smith realised who it was, she terminated the call.

The sacked teacher left another message under another false name on March 11, but her former colleague did not return the call.

Then on February 27 she sent a card to Mrs Smith containing a sexual reference – before sending her a dozen red roses and a card containing romantic poetry on March 5.

The gifts were sent to the school’s main reception and Mrs Smith was described as being ”deeply embarrassed and upset” by the incident.

It prompted the school-based police officer to call O’Hara and warn her to stop contacting Mrs Smith or criminal proceedings would follow.

But the unwanted attention continued when the head of English was ”deeply upset” to receive a card containing sexually explicit references, together with a solitaire ring.

Mrs Smith made a formal complaint to the police about O’Hara’s behaviour and she was prosecuted for harassment on October 28, 2009, at Sutton Coldfield Magistrates Court.

The General Teaching Council found O’Hara to have breached professional conduct.

The panel concluded that she lacked insight into her behaviour and has a ”deep-seated attitudinal problem”.

They sanctioned her with a prohibition order, meaning she cannot register as a teacher.

Andy Connell, chair of the panel, said in his concluding report: ”We are satisfied that the behaviour amounts to unacceptable professional conduct.

”It was behaviour directed towards a former colleague which had a detrimental effect on that colleague.

“Some of the behaviour became known to others and not only had the potential but must have brought the profession into disrepute.”

O’Hara was told she could apply to have the ban overturned in four years time.

She also has a right of appeal to the High Court within 28 days from the date of her order.


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