PUPILS and parents have rallied to the defence of an Accrington teacher who has been asked to stay at home while her church school investigates complaints about her vampire gothic horror website.
Samantha Goldstone, an English and drama teacher, agreed to take leave from St Christopher's CE High School, Accrington.
The school had received complaints about her "lurid" personal website, which publicises her book and poems which are written under the pseudonym Paigan Stone.
The MySpace.com page has since been removed.
But pupils have deluged a website with protests at the action taken against the popular teacher who has been at the school for three years.
They say Mrs Goldstone, 36, who lives in Whitefield and is married with one child, is the most inspirational teacher they have ever had and are demanding she is allowed back to teach their GCSE courses.
On her website, in answer to the question of who she would most like to meet, she said: "Dracula on a dark and sexy night."
And, she said her writing features "adult content with vampire eroticism, violence and blood lust."
But David Riley, of Union Road, Oswaldtwistle, a fantasy novel author who works for a firm of solicitors in Blackburn, said the matter was a storm in a teacup.
He said: "It's the first time I have ever heard of anybody being victimised because they write fantasy fiction. It's just ridiculous as her books aren't even aimed at children anyway.
"I can't see that what she's written could possibly affect her professional life as a teacher. Other teachers in the past have written far racier stuff. Where do we draw the line as there's far worse things a teacher could have done?
"I think some people are just taking advantage of this."
Mr Riley said he felt Mrs Goldstone was being unfairly targeted because she is an attractive woman.
"If she looked like Miss Marple nobody would have raised an eyebrow," he said.
However, some parents of St Christopher's pupils feel her interest in vampires is "inappropriate" for a teacher at a church school.
Headteacher Alasdair Coates said in a statement: "Concerns have been raised with me regarding the conduct of a member of staff and content on the Internet.
"These concerns have to be investigated appropriately and, while we do this, the member of staff has agreed to stay away from school. This is not an indication of guilt as we have not completed the investigation. There has been no formal suspension."
Mr Coates added: "Pupils and staff work hard to achieve high standards and expect us to look into allegations. However, it would be unfair to discuss the exact nature of the allegations or identify the member of staff."
Mrs Goldstone's book, Gabriele Caccini - The Vampire Gene Book 1, is about a 17th Century vampire who is drugged with Ecstasy by a fellow student. It has been recommended by the Good Book Guide.
She is currently working on a sequel and her poems have appeared in six anthologies.
On Monday evening Mrs Goldstone's husband Jack answered the door at their home. He said she was out of the country and unavailable for comment.
He added that both he and his wife had been advised not to talk to the press while the matter was under investigation.
The story has appeared in the national press and in America where it has been reported in the Washington Post.
- GOTHIC horror classics such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bram Stoker's Dracula are on the syllabus of the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, the largest of the three English examination boards for GCSE and A-level.
WHAT do you think? Click on 'Submit your comments' below to give us your views, and cast your vote in our poll on the right-hand side of the home page.