Teacher in France says tattoos cost him kindergarten teaching job

PALAISEAU, France – A schoolteacher whose body, face and tongue are 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.

But the teacher, Sylvain Helaine, 35, still teaches children from the age of six up and said that after an initial shock when they see him for the first time, his pupils see past his appearance.

“All of my students and their parents were always cool with me because basically they knew me,” said Helaine, who estimated he has spent around 460 hours under the tattooists’ needle.

“It’s only when people see me from far away that they can assume the worst.”

He said last year he was teaching kindergarten at the Docteur Morere Elementary School in Palaiseau, a suburb of Paris when the parents of a three-year-old child complained to educational authorities. They said their son, who was not taught by Helaine, had nightmares after seeing him.

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