An Italian teacher, Cinzia Paolina De Lio, who was dismissed for an astonishing 20 years of absence during her 24-year tenure at schools near Venice, has vowed to tell her side of the story.

De Lio’s dismissal in 2017 came after she reappeared for four months, sparking complaints. Italy’s highest court, the Supreme Court of Cassation, confirmed the dismissal, citing her absences as evidence of “permanent and absolute ineptitude.”

The secondary school teacher, specializing in history and philosophy, has condemned the ruling and pledged to “reconstruct the truth.” She told Repubblica newspaper, “Sorry, but right now I’m at the beach,” adding that she would reveal the facts of this “absolutely unique and surreal story.”

Reinstated in 2018 after a ruling by a Venice judge, De Lio’s return was short-lived as the education ministry appealed the decision, leading to a reversal by the Supreme Court last week.

The ministry’s case against De Lio centered on her 20 out of 24 years of absence from the classroom. For the first 10 years, she was entirely absent, and her subsequent 14-year absences were attributed to sickness, personal, or family reasons.

During a brief four-month teaching stint in Chioggia near Venice in 2015, students complained about her lack of preparedness, failure to bring textbooks, and “random and improvised” marking. An inspection deemed her “unprepared” and “inattentive,” with students refusing to participate in her classes due to her distraction with her phone.

De Lio’s 2017 dismissal led to a protracted legal battle, including appeals and counter-appeals, culminating at the top court. Her defense of “freedom of teaching” was dismissed by the court, emphasizing the teacher’s responsibility to guarantee students’ right to study.

Now describing herself as a freelance journalist, De Lio has asserted that she possesses documents to refute the claim of a 20-year absence. The education ministry, meanwhile, has stated its commitment to ensuring that teaching is conducted with “adequate professionalism.”