By Robert Firth, local democracy reporter
A primary school teacher who tried cocaine believing it was “sugar or salt” has been banned from the classroom.
Barbara Twumasi, 35, said she was given the Class A drug in an envelope as she was leaving a wedding party and tasted it believing it was salt or sugar.
But a professional misconduct panel found Twumasi guilty of unacceptable professional misconduct and said her behaviour lacked integrity.
In a report banning Twumasi from the classroom Alan Meyrick, from the Teaching Regulation Agency, said: “In my view, it is necessary to impose a prohibition order in order to maintain public confidence in the profession
“Ms Barbara Twumasi is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England.”
Twumasi had previously been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct by a panel at a hearing on December 3.
Panel member, Dr Zubair Hanslot, said: “Possession and taking of a Class A drug was serious and would likely have a negative impact on Ms Twumasi’s status as a teacher, potentially damaging the public perception of the profession.
“The panel was satisfied that Ms Twumasi was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct.”
Police found a metal tin of the Class A drug in Barbara Twumasi’s jacket pocket after being called to a domestic incident near her home in the early hours of February 9, 2019.
Officers arrested the teacher, who worked at Lambeth’s Jessop Primary School in Herne Hill, and took her to a police station where she tested positive for cocaine.
She was let off with a caution by officers who advised her to inform the school of her arrest.
Two days later on February 11 she met with the headteacher of the school, Kenneth Baffoe, and informed him that she had been given a caution for possession of cocaine.
But she failed to tell Mr Baffoe that she had received a positive Class A drugs test.
Mr Baffoe only discovered that Twumasi had tested positive for cocaine after he emailed police about the incident weeks later on March 29.
When asked why she failed to inform the headteacher that she had received a positive drug test, Twumasi said she believed police would tell the school.
She said: “I was scared. I knew I had to tell him. I just wanted to go in and tell him what had happened and give him the letter. But I was anxious. I was embarrassed.
“At the time the police had assured me they were going to send the school the information. I just relied on the police to provide that information.”
The hearing heard how Twumasi originally told officers she had bought the tin of cocaine for £40 after texting a dealer.
She said she had snorted a small amount of the substance and didn’t like it.
But she later backtracked on this story, admitting she lied to officers under pressure.
Twumasi said the true story was that she was handed an envelope with a plastic bag of cocaine inside as she was leaving a wedding party she attended earlier in the evening.
Believing it was a prank gift, she tasted the substance – not realising it was cocaine.
She said: “I never thought they would give something like that at a wedding. I just thought it was one of those quirky… I don’t know, I didn’t honestly think.
“I had a lot going on that night. Like who even gives that at a wedding party? I was furious. I was like – what is this?
“I thought it might be sugar or even salt. I just looked at it and was like – I’ve never seen a bag like that before. It just never crossed my mind.”
Twumasi, from Wandsworth, is banned from teaching indefinitely.
She may apply for the prohibition to be set aside after two years.
The 35-year-old qualified as a teacher in 2013 and landed a job at Jessop Primary School in 2015.
She worked there until her dismissal in July 2019.
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