A Liverpool teacher failed to notify her former employer that they had continued to pay her for more than a year – and held onto thousands of pounds she wasn’t entitled to.
When Danielle Auerbach-Byrne left her job at Rainhill High School, she continued to be paid by St Helens Council for a further 15 months. A Teaching Regulation Agency hearing was told during this time, Miss Auerbach-Byrne retained more than £34,000 which effectively doubled her income.
Miss Auerbach-Byrne did not inform her employer, St Helens Council, and assumed someone would notice the clerical error that led to the payment “and do something about it.” The teacher, who had most recently been working at North Liverpool Academy, was convicted by magistrates of dishonestly retaining a wrongful credit in December 2020 and received a suspended sentence.
The Teaching Regulation Agency said she was was guilty of unacceptable professional conduct and conduct that may bring the profession into disrepute. She had breached teacher’s standards, the three-person panel found.
Michael O’Donohoe, presenting officer, told a virtual hearing on Monday that in 2017, Miss Auerbach-Byrne left her role at Rainhill High which started a chain of events that led to her hearing. He said that during the period of 15 months when she was paid “money she wasn’t entitled to” Miss Auerbach-Byrne was also receiving a legitimate wage from elsewhere and her spending totaled around £64,000, with her account accessed 10 times in two months.
This was despite the former teacher claiming she was “not good with money” and had gone into her overdraft. Mr O’Donohoe said the cost to St Helens Council was almost £48,500 and the money Miss Auerbach-Byrne kept “could have been spent on provision of education” or “paid for another teacher.”
Having initially refused to make any remarks, Miss Auerbach-Byrne told the meeting she pleaded guilty as she could not afford the legal fees a trial would have cost. She said the money had been paid back in full “which I had to sell my house to do.”
She added: “It was caused by my own stupidity, I buried my head in the sand. It wasn’t a deliberate act per se.
“I don’t know what I spent it on. I didn’t tell the school when I should have and I didn’t even tell my husband until I was in court because I was so ashamed. I am still ashamed.”
Miss Auerbach-Byrne said it was unlikely she would teach again despite the sanction, owing to ill health. She did not return to the virtual meeting for the sanction to be imposed.
Mr O’Donohoe said in all his time as a presenting officer he had “never seen a teacher just up and leave.”