School violates staff member’s data rights

| 25/03/2021 | 31 Comments

(CNS): A private school has been ordered to destroy a recording taken unlawfully at a meeting between a member of staff and a line manager. St Ignatius Catholic School breached the Data Protection Law when it recording a meeting with the individual because consent was ambiguous, not given freely given and without sufficient explanation in a situation where the power dynamics were unfair. In an order under the data protection legislation, the Office of the Ombudsman has also ordered the school to improve employee data protection measures. The watchdog said the employee wasn’t told the meeting was being recorded until it was underway and she wasn’t given a copy or transcript within the statutory 30 days.

According to the data Protection Law, consent must be freely and knowingly given, not implied. In this case the staff member never received an explanation about why the recording was taken.

Deputy Ombudsman Jan Liebaers said that employers need to give more than just a casual indication that a personnel meeting is being recorded.

“Even asking someone ‘is it OK if I record this?’ does not pass muster with the law, if they are not told the reasons it is happening,” he said. “In this instance, seeking consent for the recording after the meeting had already started and then merely asking for the employee’s permission to record – without informing her of the reasons – is not what the Data Protection Law requires.”

The consent sought in this case was not appropriate, the office stated in a release outlining the case, especially given the power dynamics. Ombudsman Sandy Hermiston explained that the law requires that an individual must be aware when their personal data is being processed and why.

“It is also crucially important that consent is only used when appropriate, but not where there is a significant imbalance, such as between an employer and an employee,” she added.

The case also revealed the need for the school to address its poor handling of this case after the staff member raised her concerns. The school has been directed to develop procedures allowing it to recognise when consent is an appropriate legal basis for the processing of personal data and when consent meets the legal standard set out in the law, as well as provisions for when consent is withdrawn.

St Ignatius was at one time one of Cayman’s top schools, with some of the best academic results and inspections. But in its most recent inspection the school’s rating plummeted to ‘satisfactory’ because of a decline in the quality of the school leadership and major staffing disputes in the wake of the departure of the school head last year.

See the ombudsman order here.


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Category: Local News, Politics, Private Sector Oversight

Comments (31)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Ombudsman is writing outside the lines. Difficult to imagine that a performance review interview can’t be recorded without employee consent. Perhaps the issue will go to court for a more definitive answer. Perhaps termination is the only answer.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I find it so funny the people complaining about ‘the church should not be involved in the church school, that’s not the way it used to be’. Its like they didn’t know the school was founded and run by nuns. (Well, founded by parishioners for their kids, and run by nuns.) Or perhaps they don’t think nuns are part of ‘the church’? Revisionist historians at their best.

    Oddly few actual comments on the actual news story.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The government schools when I was a teacher there were also controlled by religion. If we didn’t have enough “devotions” we were reported to the education department. The Education Council was headed by someone I do not wish to embarrass but VERY evangelical and it had all sorts of dubious pious persons on it including a “parson” who, shall we say, was typical of these awful fundamentalist religions with all their biases but was caught in bed by his wife with a male.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Finally a private sector entity being held to civil service standards. Can you imagine what would happen in these private sector companies if FOI laws applied.

    • Anonymous says:

      give it a rest jobsworth

    • Anonymous says:

      Of course freedom of information measures by definition only apply to public institutions so that is unlikely to happen. There is a mechanism for a subject access request under this law so perhaps a cursory amount of research could lead you to some answers.

  5. Pissed Off says:

    As a parent at St. Ignatius- all I can say is that the school has been in constant decline ever since the Preachers/Ministers/Fathers have been put to oversee the school.

    Make them serve crackers and wine at mass and leave the school to be run by qualified and properly trained EDUCATORS and not the CLERGY.

    Thanks to ALL the hard working and dedicated teachers at the school for loving our kids, educating our kids and nurturing our kids.

    To the Father now there- since it seems you have so much spare time on your hands to delve into the school- maybe use that time to clean the Mastic Trail or give to the poor and allow the TRAINED and QUALIFIED teachers to DO THEIR JOB!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Spot on!!! WTH does St. Ignatius have priests interfering with the running of the school?!? I have never heard of clergy being involved in the day-to-day operations at any school. Administration of schools should be in the hands of educators.

    • Anonymous says:

      Also a parent with kids at St. Ignatius and many of us know what the hidden agenda is here and many of us are happy that the church is involved with the school. It is a Catholic school after all.

    • Anonymous says:

      You do realize you’ve signed your kids up for a Catholic School, right? Sounds a little silly for you not to want the church to be in charge!

      • Anonymous says:

        Numb nuts the church can have general oversight but leave the day to day operation to educators.

        • Anonymous says:

          By educators you mean nuns and priests, right dumb dumb? Again you’ve signed your kid up for a CATHOLIC school…

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly! If I was Mrs. Pissed Off, I would simply send my child to another school.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m very familiar with church schools.The “church” is usually “in charge” (albeit at a reporting level) but priests aren’t usually all up in the decision-making, hiring/firing, and operations of a school. To be specific, it certainly was NOT the way St. Ignatius has historically operated.

        • Anonymous says:

          Absolutely correct. When the nuns ran it it wasn’t like they were part of the church or anything.

    • Anonymous says:

      Disagreeing with how the school is run is one thing, but several of those comments are straight up anti-Catholic. It’s very disappointing, but it seems you all are at least finally being honest and showing your true colours.

      • Anonymous says:

        If we were anti Catholic we would not be sending our kids there. What we are is anti priest who have NO knowlege of how to run an eductional institition.

  6. Castleford High School says:

    Another stellar piece of publicity for the school that I pay over $2k a month to send my kids to.

    Why aren’t ex-pats allowed to send their kids to normal, non-pretentious schools where bullying, winning at sport is all a normal part of growing up and building character!?

    No wonder the world is in the state it is today with all this snowflake, PC nonsense everywhere – people nowadays are offended at everything, grow up soft sods.

    • Anonymous says:

      St Ignatius has never won anything at sport.

      • SSM345 says:

        That’s not true; we won a football tournament in WB once around 1987 and then went to Pizza Hut to celebrate afterwards.

        Shomari’s Daddeh took us.

        Remember it like it was yesterday.

        • Anonymous says:

          Prep dominates in football primary leagues and our teams are coached by regular volunteer dads…not paid professional coaches…take that….lol

        • Anonymous says:

          Tony was President of CIFA before the Jeff Webb era. Maybe he refereed the match, that could have made the difference.

      • Anonymous says:

        they won basketball league in 2013

    • Anonymous says:

      But you can tho. If you don’t want to pay 2k to the school you can pay 300 to government.

  7. Anonymous says:

    They would have to double school fees for the civil suit that would follow if that were me!!!!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I wonder just how egregious the infraction has to be before the Ombudsman gives anyone an administrative monetary penalty?

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh dear! What a difference about 5 decades make. I fondly remember when my children all attended the Catholic school. It was called “Our Lady of Perpetual Help Prep School” , yup I said it was long ago!. It was such a pleasure to have them there, school, PTA, All Island Sports Day were always such a pleasure. We had the Sisters teaching back then, Sister Shiela, Sister Cecilia,, Sister Caretas and few others whose names I have forgotten. FYI it was normal for our kids to win many medals on sports day. Their football teams were the best! The Catholic kids went to mass and sometimes the non- Catholics would sneak in with them. It was such a great school to have my kids attend. So loving and kind!

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