SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA- An elementary school teacher was fired after appearing with her husband in a woman's magazine article on loving couples. Lynne Tziolas, who taught first grade for two years at the Narraweena Public School in Sydney's northern beach district, has retained the legal services of one of Sydney's top legal firms pro bono.
In May, 2008, the 24-year old was fired after a photo of her and her husband, Antonios Tziolas, was published in a sealed section of Cleo magazine as part of a story on couples and their love life. They decided to be a part of the article with nine other couples after they were approached by a friend who was unable to take part.
"We got some beautiful, loving shots that we wanted for a keepsake, and we were paid for them.", said Mr. Tziolas in a TheAge.com article. "We were honest. Yes, we both are teachers. Yes, we do have sex, and yes, we are loving and committed to each other. We both stand by what we did."
In an interview with Annika Burgess of LIVENEWS.com.au, Mrs. Tziolas said after she was fired the Education Department asked her to sign a document to "....prove she wasn't a sex offender."
"The prohibited employer's list is a list signed prior to becoming a teacher wherein... you say you have not had criminal convictions in the areas they specify.", said Mrs. Tziolas. "I had done it beforehand, before I started teaching. The DET (Department of Education and Training)... asked me why I shouldn't be placed on it now."
She says the entire ordeal has taken a toll on her health. "I'm getting professional help. I'm actually seeing a psychiatrist and a psychologist in addition to my regular general practitioner. I'm on medication at the moment.", she told Ms. Burgess.
In response to mounting public pressure, and a petition for her reinstatement with over 40 signatures of parents from the school where Mrs. Tziolas taught, the DET has offered her positions at other schools. "They even offered me one for special needs.", which she said she "...isn't even qualified to work at." According to Mrs. Tziolas, "The other option was a school... an hour and a half from our house. I built my career on the beaches area....specifically Narraweena because of the locality."
According to reporter Brigid Glanville of Mark Colvin's PM radio show in Sydney, the photo causing such a stir appeared in the May, 2008 edition of Cleo magazine. Mr. and Mrs. Tziolas both appear nude in a sealed section in the magazine, and they are frank in their discussion of their love life. In the interview, Ms. Glanville asked questions regarding both the photo and the accompanying article.
"It was an article that had a nude photo shoot, a picture of us, tastefully done.", said Mrs. Tziolas. "It was accompanied by questions and answers about our private life."
"And what was in the article that was disturbing...", asked Ms. Glanville.
"Basically the questions were asking us about our sex life, just simple things like: 'How often do you have sex?', and 'What's the most passion killer?' and 'What's the most risque thing you have ever done?' and 'How long have you been together?", said Mrs. Tziolas. "It's in Cleo, an adult woman's magazine. You have to rip open the sealed section to get it."
"Have you had any calls from... parents at the school?", asked Ms. Glanville.
"Yes, yes I have.", said Mrs. Tziolas. "They have been speaking to me frequently since the dismissal."
"And what's been their reaction? What have they said to you?", asked Ms. Glanville.
"They're shocked. They're quite outraged, they think that they have lost a fantastic teacher, and I think they have too.", answered Mrs. Tziolas.
In closing the on-air report, Brigid Glanville said the Minister for Education John Della Bosca and his department were unavailable for comment. In a written statement from the department of education it said Mrs. Tziolas was employed at the school full time on a temporary basis, and was dismissed after several complaints from parents.
In an interview with TheAge.com.au, Mrs. Tziolas's husband, Antonios, disagrees.
"The photo shoot was perceived as a problem... the suspension came after one anonymous complaint by a concerned parent.", said Mr. Tziolas, also a qualified teacher.
This begs the question no one seems to be asking; why was Mrs. Tziolas singled out exclusively by DET officials? Both are qualified teachers in the Sydney School District, and both were in the photos and the article.
No comment has been heard from the DET.