Bombarded with sexy texts

Arts head faces harassment claims, reports Simone Dixon.

The female head of creative arts at a Birmingham specialist school is facing charges of unacceptable professional conduct, including sexually harassing a woman teacher.

Angelina Romeo-Melody regularly sent inappropriate text messages late at night to a teacher she was mentoring, asking her to text back "hugs" and "kisses", England's General Teaching Council heard.

One message to Rajendra Bhogal, an arts teacher, read: "You're my bestest friend, I've got so much love for you and only you." Another said: "Wake up Raj I really miss you, hugs kisses."

A disciplinary hearing in Birmingham last week was told that Mrs Romeo-Melody became increasingly possessive towards Ms Bhogal, whom she had been assigned to mentor.

It is claimed that she bombarded Ms Bhogal with text messages, cards and presents for more than a year and declared she was falling in love with her.

Mrs Romeo-Melody, who taught at the Shireland language college and sixth-form centre between September 1999 and December 2003, is facing 13 allegations of unprofessional conduct.

The GTC heard that she abused her authority and subjected members of staff to sexual harassment, regularly sending inappropriate text messages late at night. It was also alleged that she sent text messages to Year 12 students.

Mrs Romeo-Melody, who was present for part of the hearing, denies unacceptable professional conduct and claims the charges are without foundation.

Chris Holden, from the NASUWT teachers' union, who represented her, said the allegations were half-truths and a deliberate attempt by the headteacher to discredit Mrs Romeo-Melody.

Last week's hearing was told that the school was alerted to Mrs Romeo-Melody's behaviour in April 2003 when Ms Bhogal complained to Mark Grundy, the head.

Ms Bhogal, who joined the school in April 2002, said: "At first we were friends but then she started pressurising me and it became very draining.

She told me I was her best friend and I should tell her at least 100 times a day that I love her. I noticed a change in her behaviour and thought she was very confused and mixed up." Ms Bhogal said she would receive two to three suggestive text messages or phone calls a night, sometimes at 2am, asking her to text back "hugs" and "kisses".

Mr Grundy told the panel that Mrs Romeo-Melody was an excellent teacher and a fiery head of faculty. However, the hearing was also told that continuous family and health problems led to an inappropriate interest in Ms Bhogal and unpredictable behaviour.

The other charges against Mrs Romeo-Melody include swearing at a teacher in front of pupils, encouraging staff not to cooperative with senior managers and not supporting her staff.

Although Ms Bhogal admitted sending her mentor cards, gifts, and text messages, she said they were in an effort to please Mrs Romeo-Melody and "shut her up".

One message she sent read: "It was great being with you and the kids today.

Goodnight dude, wish I could give you lots of hugs, you are my little gem."

Mrs Romeo-Melody left her position in December 2003 after reaching a compromise agreement. The hearing was adjourned.

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