Italy teacher fired for peeing in a bush 11 years ago

Stefano Rho lost a fixed teaching contract at a state school in Bergamo, Lombardy. The reason? He was once caught peeing in a bush.

Italy teacher fired for peeing in a bush 11 years ago
An Italian teacher was dismissed for failing to declare a criminal record he had after being charged for weeing in a bush 11 years ago. Photo: Juan Carlos Mejía/Flickr

A delighted Rho had won the permanent teaching role in November, after – like so many other aspiring teachers in  Italy – spending 14 years working as a supply teacher in local schools.

But soon after starting, he was called into the headteacher's office. His concerned new boss told him that the Ministry of Education had sent back his forms because he had falsely ticked the box entitled “I do not have a criminal record.”

It was then that Rho remembered an ill-fated, late-night wee in a bush more than a decade ago.

The criminal act happened on the evening of the Ferragosto public holiday in August 2005, when Rho and two friends had gone to the Lombardy town of Averara (population: 183) to see a comedian perform in the main square.

After watching the show and drinking a couple of beers, the trio were heading back to their cars around 2am, when Rho and a friend decided they needed to relieve themselves.

The streets of the tiny town were quiet and dark, so the pair decided to empty their bladders in a nearby bush. Unfortunately, no sooner had they started than a group of police officers walked by and reprimanded the youngsters.

“They saw us, asked for our ID and gave us a good-natured telling off. They said we were too illuminated by a nearby street light,” Rho told Corriere Della Sera.

A year later they were hauled in front of a magistrate and slapped with a €200 fine for public indecency.

“We didn't appeal it or get a lawyer or anything, it seemed something small that was over and gone,” Rho added.

But eleven years later the unfortunate episode came back to haunt him.

After he explained his misdemeanor, the school's headteacher, though angry, told Rho he had no intention of dismissing the newly appointed teacher.

But Italy's Court of Audit saw things differently.

They reminded the school that, even though the crime itself was not severe enough to warrant disciplinary action, failing to declare a criminal record is a sackable offence.

School authorities dismissed the experienced teacher and father of three on January 11th.

To add insult to injury they stripped him of all the experience points he had earned as a supply teacher: a fact which will make it very difficult for him to find another permanent position.

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‘It’s their loss’: Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

The UK is missing out by barring highly skilled Italian graduates from accessing a new work visa, Italy's universities minister said on Wednesday.

'It's their loss': Italian universities left off UK special study visa list

Universities and Research Minister Cristina Messa said she was disappointed by the UK’s decision not to allow any graduates of Italian universities access to its ‘High Potential Individual’ work permit.

“They’re losing a big slice of good graduates, who would provide as many high skills…it’s their loss,” Messa said in an interview with news agency Ansa, adding that Italy would petition the UK government to alter its list to include Italian institutions.

Ranked: Italy’s best universities and how they compare worldwide

“It’s a system that Britain obviously as a sovereign state can choose to implement, but we as a government can ask (them) to revise the university rankings,” she said.

The High Potential Individual visa, which launches on May 30th, is designed to bring highly skilled workers from the world’s top universities to the UK in order to compensate for its Brexit-induced labour shortage.

Successful applicants do not require a job offer to be allowed into the country but can apply for one after arriving, meaning potential employers won’t have to pay sponsorship fees.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome.

Students sit on the steps of Roma Tre University in Rome. Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP.

The visa is valid for two years for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and three years for PhD holders, with the possibility of moving into “other long-term employment routes” that will allow the individual to remain in the country long-term.

READ ALSO: Eight things you should know if you’re planning to study in Italy

Italy isn’t the only European country to have been snubbed by the list, which features a total of 37 global universities for the 2021 graduation year (the scheme is open to students who have graduated in the past five years, with a different list for each graduation year since 2016).

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, EPFL Switzerland, Paris Sciences et Lettres, the University of Munich, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute are the sole European inclusions in the document, which mainly privileges US universities.

Produced by the UK’s Education Ministry, the list is reportedly based on three global rankings: Times Higher Education World University Rankings, the Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, and The Academic Ranking of World Universities.

Messa said she will request that the UK consider using ‘more up-to-date indicators’, without specifying which alternative system she had in mind.