School board violated teacher's privacy: report
Newfoundland and Labrador's privacy commissioner has found that the now-defunct Eastern School District breached the privacy of a teacher on multiple occasions.
The teacher filed a complaint in 2012 that the board improperly collected, used and disclosed her personal information, in connection to an ongoing allegation that the teacher had made about harassment by co-workers.
In a 32-page report, commissioner Ed Ring found that the board breached the teacher's privacy under six different sections of the Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The school board had brought in an outside consultant to assess the professional relationships in the workplace.
About six months later, that consultant filed a report that recommended the complainant and another teacher "undergo psychological assessments, counselling and coaching to move on with their lives."
The complainant said she felt she did not need more counselling, as she was already receiving some, but in the end agreed, provided that it would address a workplace conflict.
But when the teacher attended the first meeting, she found that the psychologist's understanding of the nature of the meeting was different from her own.
As well, an official at the school board phoned the psychologist, expressing concern for the stability of the teacher, whom the official described as paranoid. Nothing in the assessment, however, indicated that the teacher was.
In her complaint, the teacher said the board shared her personal information to too many people — including two of the people against whom she has made complaints, including the school principal.
Ring agreed with the complainant, noting for instance that the board's disclosure to the school principal was an "unreasonable invasion of her privacy."
Served no purpose
Ring also found there was no need to disclose personal information to the psychologist, noting that it was extraneous and served no purpose.
In order to avoid such breaches in future, Ring made a series of recommendations, including educating employees on protecting personal information and disclosure.
The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, which has taken over the responsibilities of the former Eastern School District, said it will act on Ring's advice.
"We believe the OIPC has provided us with some important guidance which we will thoroughly review in an effort to enhance our practices," the board said in a short statement to CBC News.
The board noted that the complainant is pursuing the matter through the courts.
With files from Chris O'Neill-Yates