Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Privacy and December 20th

Adopted from article by Scott, Graham F. "Student Privacy and You".  Professionally Speaking March 2008

The Education Act, the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) and the Personal Health Information Protection Act, all mandate that unless explicit consent is given personal information must not be disclosed.  Personal information includes names, addresses, ethnic background, employment or criminal history, financial dealings and health records.

Under the Education Act, school boards may collect a lot of personal information about students when they register.  A prime example of this is the Ontario Student Record (OSR) which includes the name, student number, address, phone number, gender, birthdate, any enrolment and transfer dates, names of parents and guardians or both, emergency contact numbers, previous report cards and an official student transcript for each student.  By law, information from the OSR must be kept strictly confidential by school boards and can only be used by Teachers "for improvement of instruction".  Parents can sue a Teacher for breaching their child's privacy.  MFIPPA allows for fines of up to $5,000, regardless of whether or not the act was intentional.

Teachers take notes about students in class, receive permission slips with parents' names and phone numbers and often have access to e-mail addresses.  Yearbooks and school newsletters often contain names and photos of students.  All of this is technically personal information that cannot be collected, posted or shared without permission from parents/guardians.  Again, information can only be shared "for improvement of instruction" and must never be the source of gossip.

Store all personal information securely.  Lock up hard copies and keep electronic documents on a password-protected computer.  A tidy desk may help prevent sensitive information being misplaced or stolen.  Collect only as much personal information as you need to do your job and when you no longer need the personal information, be sure to shred paper documents or securely erase electronic ones.

With regards to the December 20th PD day, unlike Permanent Teachers who lost 2 days of work, Occasional Teachers in a Long Term Assignment are expected to be at school or register for one of the PD opportunities on the Employee Portal and you will be paid according to your FTE.