Sask. teachers' union survey breached privacy of thousands of students: commissioner
SASKATOON -- Up to 8,000 Saskatchewan students do not appear to have consented to the disclosure of their personal information in a survey administered by the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF), the Saskatchewan privacy commissioner says.
“Every time a survey was completed and submitted by a teacher, a privacy breach occurred,” Ronald Kruzeniski wrote in a report dated June 25.
“Teachers are employees of the school divisions. The STF is an entity that is separate from school divisions. By completing and submitting the surveys, teachers were disclosing students’ personal information that is in the possession or control of school divisions, to the STF.”
In June 2019, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) requested that 900 of its members complete an online survey regarding class load and class composition, according to the report.
The survey requested teachers to rate each of their students on factors such as attendance, behaviour and academic performance.
The purpose of the survey was to assist its Teachers’ Bargaining Committee in conversations about class load and class composition, the report says.
The Saskatchewan School Boards Associations (SSBA) advised school divisions to instruct its teachers to not complete the online survey as its position was that the survey requested students’ personal information. Soon after, the online survey was disabled and the data that was collected was destroyed.
Between 200 and 300 surveys were completed prior to the online survey being disabled meaning 3,000 to 8,000 students could have been affected, Kruzeniski found.
He made several recommendations for each school division including:
- Notifying affected individuals.
- That school divisions establish policies and procedures based on The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LA FOIP).
- That school divisions provide LA FOIP training to teachers and staff each year.
- That school divisions require teachers to sign an agreement each year indicating they will abide by policies and procedures.
- That school divisions appoint an LA FOIP Access and Privacy Officer who can ensure the school division’s compliance with LA FOIP.