A school teacher, whose body is covered in tattoos and who has had the whites of his eyes surgically turned black, said he was prevented from teaching at a French kindergarten after a parent complained he scared their child.
Sylvain Helaine was teaching at the Docteur Morere Elementary School in Palaiseau, a suburb of Paris, last year when the parents of a three-year-old complained to educational authorities.
They said their son, who was not taught by Helaine, had nightmares after seeing him.
It was ruled that the 35-year-old, who is considered to be France’s most tattooed man, could continue teaching but only for children over the age of six.
Helaine, who was born in Paris, got his first ink when he was 27 and has since spent over £35,000 and around 460 hours under the tattooists’ needle.
He said that in the months following the complaint the school authorities informed him he would no longer teach kindergarten children.
I think the decision they took was quite sad,’ said Helaine, before claiming that pupils can see past his appearance after the initial shock.
‘All of my students and their parents were always cool with me because basically they knew me,’ he added.
‘It’s only when people see me from far away that they can assume the worst.’
A spokesman for the local education authority said an agreement was reached with Helaine to move him away from teaching kindergarten.
Pupils under six ‘could be frightened by his appearance’, the spokesman said.
Helaine said he would stick with his chosen career despite the setbacks. ‘I’m a primary school teacher… I love my job.’
He said he started getting tattoos when, while teaching at a private school in London, he had an ‘existential crisis’.
Since then, he said that getting tattoos had become a passion.
Helaine, whose alias is Freaky Hoody, said he hoped to show his pupils that they should accept people who are different from the norm.