Drug dealing Essex teacher banned from the classroom for at least three years

Colchester Sixth Form College in Essex
Colchester Sixth Form College in Essex -Credit:Google Street View

A teacher who was convicted of dealing cocaine across Colchester has been banned from the profession for at least three years. Stephanie Szymanska, 36, was caught by Essex Police when they were investigating the rise of drug-fuelled violence in the city.

The offence took place on June 18, 2021, when she was subject to a sting by Essex Police that involved undercover officers purchasing drugs from targeted individuals. Ms Szymanska was caught dealing cocaine in June 2021.

She resigned from her role at the college in December 2021 and was sentenced in May 2022. She was given a custodial sentence of 15 months, suspended for 24 months, an unpaid work requirement of 80 hours, a rehabilitation activity requirement and a victim surcharge of £156.

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Findings from Szymanska's conduct hearing, held in April, were recently published by the Teaching Regulation Agency. The panel said the teacher's offending did not involve pupils or members of staff but it would "set a bad example to students, especially as teachers are seen to be role models".

Concerns were also raised about the offence having an impact "on the safety or security of pupils and/or members of the public". They added: "Her conduct ran counter to what should have been at the very core of her practice as a teacher."

Ms Szymanska told the panel the event "has sent shockwaves throughout her family" and that the whole experience "was very traumatic". She was said to have been proud of her career and that losing her job "has been catastrophic".

Sarah Buxcey, the decision maker, concluded that Szymanska would be banned from teaching and unable to apply to teach again until at least three years had passed. Without a successful application, Ms Szymanska remains prohibited from teaching indefinitely.

Mr Adrian Frost, assistant principal, said: "The individual in question taught at the college for less than a term, some years ago – they were not teaching at the college when the incident occurred. When appointed all of the usual checking processes, including references and DBS, were undertaken.

"We were only made aware of any concern when the person involved was arrested; at that point all teaching ceased and the person resigned with immediate effect. The college has the highest professional expectations of all staff and takes such matters extremely seriously; we followed appropriate procedures throughout and without delay, including referring this matter to the Teaching Regulation Agency at the time, initiating a process that has concluded with the publication of this report.

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