Pupils’ pri­vacy breach

Be­havioural and med­i­cal files found on girl’s iPad

Herald Sun - - NEWS - ASH­LEY ARGOON ED­U­CA­TION RE­PORTER ash­ley.argoon@news.com.au

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.

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