Pupils’ privacy breach
Behavioural and medical files found on girl’s iPad
DOCUMENTS detailing school students’ names and photos alongside their medical and behavioural history have appeared on a pupil’s iPad.
The girl, 14, discovered a file in her personal iPad’s Google Docs folder, which included profiles on almost 30 Manor Lakes P-12 College students — most with photos attached.
The file detailed their heath and behavioural issues, including physical anger and aggression and risk of self-harm and suicide, medications, truancy, issues in their home life and whether the student was in out-of-home care. The breach comes less than
two months after more than 300 confidential student profiles were uploaded on Strathmore Secondary College’s community site, which were later discussed on social media page Reddit. And last month, private NAPLAN results were sent to the wrong families at Methodist Ladies’ College.
In the latest breach, on September 4, the year 8 student alerted staff of the Wyndham Vale school the day after finding the private file on her iPad.
Her father said, despite this, she was accused by the school of hacking, then repeatedly questioned as to how she came to have the document.
“She’s only a 14-year-old kid,” he said. “She’s done the right thing and she doesn’t understand what the kerfuffle is.” The father, who did not wish to be named to avoid identifying his daughter, said the school also called the family home about four times demanding she be further quizzed about how the document appeared on her iPad.
A week later, her parents lodged a complaint with the Department of Education and Training. The father said they were later told their daughter had used a teacher’s laptop in class and the teacher had received a school email with the document attached, which then transferred to the student’s account. But her father said that didn’t make sense.
“My daughter doesn’t recall (using the teacher’s laptop),” he said. “We don’t know if it’s been spread elsewhere.”
However, the Herald Sun has been told the document may have been “synched” to the student’s iPad back in May when she borrowed a teacher’s laptop for a class task and accessed Google Docs.
A Department of Education spokesman said the incident had been investigated and was believed to have been caused by human error.
“We unreservedly apologise for the way this issue was initially handled by the school and acknowledge that the student was in no way to blame for the incident,” he said.