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Cocaine-addicted teacher banned from teaching after students see Snapchat posts

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Austin Whiting was suspended from teaching for posting on Snapchat about drug use, including cocaine addiction, and having inappropriate conversations with an at-risk student.

Whiting had been part of the school since 2004, but resigned on March 8 last year(CMM / SWNS)

A cocaine-addicted geography teacher was removed from teaching after students discovered his Snapchat posts about drug use, a misconduct hearing heard.

Austin Whiting, who served as headteacher of Year 13 at Borden Grammar School in Sittingbourne, Kent, was also found to have misconducted himself for having an inappropriate conversation with a vulnerable student, according to the panel. Whiting, 46, had been at the school since 2004 but resigned on March 8 last year, saying he wanted to finish the school year before leaving.

However, during his notice period, just two days later, it emerged that he had had an inappropriate conversation with a student who appeared distressed. In this private conversation, he revealed personal information. Shortly afterward, he sent an email to colleagues admitting his struggle with cocaine addiction and declaring his determination to recover.

Whiting also admitted to having an inappropriate conversation with a student(Google Maps)

After a meeting the following week, he submitted a new letter of resignation, which sparked concern over his Snapchat posts discussing drug use that some students had come across. The posts included plans for a book called “The Man Who Smelled a House in His Nose,” which was revealed during the board's investigation.

Whiting also admitted to having an inappropriate conversation with a student, the details of which were not mentioned in the report. He also admitted to using cocaine between March and May of the previous year. Although he denied having an inappropriate conversation with the at-risk student, the panel found this allegation to be valid.

Although Whiting denied allegations that he used cocaine on school property or kept it in his car, the panel did not find enough evidence to support those claims. However, they stressed that while Whiting's Snapchat posts did not explicitly promote drug use, they still risked damaging the school's reputation, especially in a close-knit community.

It continued: “The use of cocaine, a Class A drug, by a teacher was serious misconduct which fell far short of the standards expected of a profession. The panel found that although this occurred outside the educational setting, Mr Whiting's conduct fell far short of what would be expected in these circumstances of teachers who should be seen as role models.”

After careful consideration, the board made the difficult decision to remove Whiting from the profession. For many years, Whiting was a respected figure among his colleagues and well known for his dedication as a teacher. Colleagues acknowledged that he had 17.5 years of exemplary service during which he had built strong relationships with his students. His classes were even observed by newly qualified teachers.