Former Westcott Primary School teachers on the Facebook row that forced them to resign
BORN and raised in east Hull, Nyanza Roberts felt she had found her dream job after landing a teaching position at Westcott Primary School.
But just a year-and-half later, that same job turned into a nightmare, after she, along with former head teacher Debbie Johnson, were suspended over a Facebook scandal which would hit the national headlines.
Derogatory posts about people from east Hull emerged on an apparent thread in which the two teachers appeared to have taken part.
A three-month long inquiry left the public in the dark over what Hull City Council had concluded.
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Vilified in their community, their personal lives picked over, they say they were left with no option but to resign their posts at the school.
Now, for the first time, Miss Roberts and Miss Johnson have spoken about the hell they say they suffered as a result of the fallout.
They claim the Facebook conversation, an alleged copy of which was posted outside the gates of the school last October, was doctored using two other, unrelated exchanges. The comments which angered people included Miss Roberts apparently calling people in east Hull "thick" and "inbred".
She told the Mail it was aimed at her friend in response to a post she had previously written about rugby.
"It was never about the school, the children, parents or meant with any malice," Miss Roberts said.
"I have always said it was probably naive of me to write that but who doesn't have banter with their friends?
"You don't think in your wildest dreams this could happen and ruin your life.
"I am east Hull born and bred.
"I live in east Hull and I'm proud to be from Hull and the city, which is why I chose to work in here."
After graduating from the University of Hull in 2008, Miss Roberts taught in various schools before landing a year-long contract at Westcott in 2010.
At the end of her contract she was rewarded with another and made PE co-ordinator and a Year 6 teacher.
But it was from there her life would turn upside down.
She said: "I hard the pick of schools but I decided I wanted to work at Westcott because it was in special measures.
"It is really had work working at a school in special measures.
"They were 18-hour days, waking up early in the morning, working a few hours before school and then working into the night."
On October 7 last year, the school came out of special measures.
But just three days later, staff returned to school to find the apparent conversation taped to school railings. Leaflets had also been posted through the doors of homes surrounding the school.
Miss Johnson said: "You can imagine our shock to find them.
"We knew they had been edited.
"We truly thought sense would prevail, we really thought it would blow over and nothing would come of it.
"We thought the truth would come out and it would be fine, especially as we had worked so hard at the school.
"We kept waiting for common sense to kick in.
"We don't know the truth about what happened."
The pair said when news of their suspensions became public, they were grateful to have the support of their families.
Miss Roberts said: "Our friends and family were so loyal.
"It is a big community and lots of people were interested in the story.
"Friends and family were hearing things about my personal life.
"It was upsetting for my mum, whose health deteriorated as a result of this.
"That was hard."
But resigning from their posts would not be the end of the story.
The Mail revealed in March how police had arrested them both on suspicion of harassment.
It led to Miss Roberts pleading guilty last month to a charge of persistently making use of a public communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience and anxiety.
The case against Miss Johnson was yesterday dropped after the prosecution failed to offer any evidence.
Miss Roberts recognises her actions in sending DNA and chlamydia testing kits to staff and a parent was wrong, but stopped short of apologising to her victims, saying she was sorry it has got this far.
She said her and Miss Johnson, who are partners, now want to put the past behind them.
"I was in a fragmented psychological state and I had heard on the grapevine various people were accusing me of things," said Miss Roberts.
"It felt like noone wanted to know the truth.
"It was a moment of madness. I am happy to face up to that and to accept that.
"Now, we want to be allowed to get on with our lives.
"That was all we ever wanted in December when we resigned.
"We wanted to start afresh and try to build our lives.
"For me it is still one day at a time, I'm still trying to rebuild and I'm seeing someone for that."