Teacher who alleged cheating at school ‘thrilled’ to be found not guilty

Donna-Maria Thomas, 45, had been accused of snooping on her colleagues’ emails after a row over a cancelled holiday.

Teacher who alleged cheating at school ‘thrilled’ to be found not guilty

A teacher who spoke out about alleged cheating at a primary school says she is “thrilled” after being found not guilty of securing unauthorised access to computer material.

Donna-Maria Thomas, 45, had been accused of snooping on her colleagues’ emails after a row over a cancelled holiday.

The experienced teacher told her trial she endured “months of hell” and was told to watch her back after alleging cheating at Aldingbourne Primary School near Chichester, West Sussex, where she worked.

Speaking outside court after being cleared by a jury, Ms Thomas told the PA news agency that the “most important thing” is that her story is out there for the children.

Ms Thomas told her trial that she raised concerns about “overgrading” and said pupils were being told “don’t write that, write this”.

Jurors heard that she reported her concerns and an investigation was launched.

She told her trial that people were “openly hostile” to her after this and the court heard that one member of staff had warned her to watch her back because “they are all gunning for me”.

The prosecution had alleged that she had accessed colleagues’ emails to see if there was anything being written about her.

Jurors were told that Ms Thomas had fallen out with head teacher Liz Webster after a row over cancelled holiday.

Speaking outside court on Tuesday after being found not guilty of the only charge she faced, Ms Thomas told the PA news agency she was “thrilled” at the verdict and thanked the jury.

“I feel really pleased that the whole story’s out there because now West Sussex County Council are going to have to take steps to address the problem,” she said.

“Today a jury unanimously voted that I was not guilty of the charges… and because of that obviously I’m free to go.

“But it’s more important that that story is out there for the children, that’s the most important thing for me and I just feel so thankful that my story has now been told.

“I don’t know if I’ll go back to teaching, I’m not sure. It’s going to take me a long time to trust people again.

“All my options are open so I’m thrilled and so thankful to the jury and the court staff, they’ve been brilliant.”

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