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Former school head fined for misuse of pupil data

06/12/18

Mark Say Managing Editor

A former headteacher has been fined £700 for unlawfully obtaining school children’s personal data from previous schools where he worked.

USB stick in laptop

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has reported that Darren Harrison of Twickenham uploaded data from two previous schools where he had worked to his then current school’s server with no lawful reason to do so.

Six months into his role as deputy head at Isleworth Town Primary School, Harrison was suspended, following which an IT audit showed large volumes of sensitive personal data on its server from his previous schools, Spelthorne Primary and The Russell School in Richmond.

He provided no valid explanation as to how the information had appeared on his system, which was via an upload from his USB stick, but stated he had deleted the personal data from it.

In a subsequent interview with the ICO, Harrison read from a prepared statement advising the information had been taken for professional purposes.

Admission

Appearing before Ealing Magistrates’ Court, Harrison admitted two offences of unlawfully obtaining personal data in breach of the Data Protection Act, and in addition to the fine was ordered to pay £364 costs and a victim surcharge of £35.

Mike Shaw, the ICO’s criminal investigation group manager, said: “Children and their parents or guardians have the right to expect that their personal data is treated with respect and that their legal right to privacy is adhered to.

“A headteacher holds a position of standing in the community and with that position comes the added responsibility to carry out their role beyond reproach.”

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