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Breach of GDPR

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by petergriffiths203, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. petergriffiths203

    petergriffiths203 New commenter

    Advice please. I accidentally sent an email to pupils instead of to staff that featured pupils names. I have been called in to office to explain my actions, at which I 'broke down' as it was final straw (hate job). I was allowed/sent home for the rest of the day as I was in no fit state to teach. I then received a call in the evening stating that the HT would accept a late resignation from me. Where do I stand? Can/will school discipline me for GDPR incident? I actually do not want to return!
  2. curlcurlcurl

    curlcurlcurl Occasional commenter

    It depends on how sensitive the information was, I’m guessing you can’t elaborate here.

    However, despite the misdemeanour I don’t feel the school are acting fairly. They should not be encouraging you to resign. You say you don’t want to return? I’d suggest seeking advice from your union if you do truly want to leave in order for a departure with a reference to be put in place for you.
    agathamorse, JohnJCazorla and strawbs like this.
  3. Piscean1

    Piscean1 Senior commenter

    Union. I don't know about the legal ins and outs of this but I do know they don't get to choose for you to resign!

    Even if you do not want to return, please seek advice from your union because they may be able to get a better deal for you.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    If you just shared names? That's not GDPR. They know who goes to school. They know each other.

    If you listed their email addresses? Yes, they didn't consent to that. So that'd be a breach. You let something slip!

    If you also said "these are the pupils with HIV" then ouch! Or a list of email addresses in the context of other sensitive information.

    BUT what training have you had? You could counter-argue you hadn't had sufficient training.

    But you want to leave? Then take it. BUT ask for a couple of £K to cover you until you get other work.

    It all sounds really dodgy. Can't tell from the info if this is a genuine GDPR breach or not. And, if you reveal too much here, you could be on thin ice.
  5. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Union, union, union.

    Do NOT agree to resign without specialist advice.

    FWIW I wouldn't think this is too serious (unless there is much more that can't be said here).
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Yes, union! And remember that you'll need a reference! Don't jump at this point. Don't.
    agathamorse, install and Mermaid7 like this.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Consult your union immediately! Do not resign.

    We can't know enough here about the details of what happened but an error in addressing an email is not an automatic disciplinary offence. You didn't do it deliberately so probably not misconduct. There's a whole host of questions that can only be gone into by your union in school as to whether, or how much, you were to blame for the email.

    If you want out and school wants you to go then maybe time for them to start putting some money and a settlement agreement on the table.
    agathamorse, JohnJCazorla and strawbs like this.
  8. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I don't get this at all.
    How can you accidentally send to pupils instead of staff? I am struggling to visualize what you may have accidentally prompted to occur in the address line of an email which results in pupils (plural) instead of staff. By accident.
    And if you sent it to pupils instead of staff, how come you were summoned by other staff to be answerable for it?
    The only explanation is that it was taken to senior staff by a pupil, in which case a complaint will have been issued.
    So it ought to be handled as a complaint.
    But you don't mention this at all.
    You miss so much out of your story, that something feels wrong to me

    I think I'm reading your query differently from the other responses-you don't want to return, they have encouraged your resignation, so there's a sense of you accepting this is best.
    Are you asking if there can be a subsequent disciplinary after a mutually agreed departure?
    Even if that were possible, I do not understand your extreme worry if it was something accidental.
  9. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    "..final straw (hate job)" suggests there's more straws to this situation than your initial post reveals, but you should still get Union advice at a district (not school) level before doing anything rash.
  10. newposter

    newposter Occasional commenter

    It’s very easily done. I did it in September. In a rush to send an email, the name comes up after the first letter is typed, and I didn’t check.
    agathamorse and install like this.
  11. banjouk

    banjouk Occasional commenter

    Pupils@myschool.sch.uk or staff@myschool.sch.uk etc.....

    Easy to do when your email client suggests a list of names to choose from.

    Don’t resign, if you have made a genuine mistake it doesn’t mean it’s gross misconduct.
  12. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I know.

    This is precisely what I don't get.
    Your two suggested email addresses, which I also envisaged, are impossible to mistake.
    Staff of the same initials-yes, easily done. Many of us have done that.
    But pupils v staff...?
  13. install

    install Star commenter

    Was the email itself of a derogatory nature regarding the students named? Did it reference any personal details apart from the names? We all make genuine mistakes and there was clearly no malicious intent on your part. It was a genuine accident - and accidents happen. Does your school have an email policy?

    Do not answer any more phone calls from the ht. Get any requests in writing in future - the ht may well deny any such conversation took place. A very odd phonecall indeed. And your word against the ht's.

    Seek advice from your Union. This must be very stressful - see gp also :cool:
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  14. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    Students@ and staff@ perhaps? Nit picking and missing the point rather...

    An ex colleague of mine once sent a whole year groups assessment data to a parent called ‘Mary’ (for example) rather than a colleague called ‘mary’. Thankfully said parent was a teacher too, emailed her to let her know and promised to delete the email without looking at it! Massive oops moment, luckily my friend got away with it. Not sure if she would I’m today’s post GDPR world.

    Seems very unfair and an overreaction to be expecting a resignation just for a simple error. If it was very sensitive content eg child protection stuff or something it’s clearly a big problem but I’m not sure it’s the end of a career/job ah that place.
    agathamorse and install like this.
  15. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    Easily done Outlook defaults to Reply All, so if the original came into all pupils plus some teachers reply all may not be want you want.
  16. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Not in the slightest.
    Such accidents are common. I've sent emails to the wrong people too. And received the wrong ones. I don't need an explanation of how predictive auto fill works in most email address bars.
    What I don't get is this particular error in the context of everything else that appears to be wrong at that school. I guess in my school, wrongly addressed emails are sent on a daily basis. But I have never heard of anybody being hauled over the coals about it, because it is pretty much self explanatory why it has happened.
    Therefore OP sending to the wrong recipient will not have seemed self explanatory to their seniors. In other words, the scenario reads as if they do not see it as an accident.
    Therefore my question about how it happened.
    Two or three posters have responded "Leave off,it's easily done if you type such and such...". But I know that already.
    I wanted OP to say how it happened, because the reaction from their seniors is so disproportionate. I cannot see it as clear cut as they post at the beginning. It makes no sense.
  17. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Not too much extra to add at this juncture, other than good advice from several posters near the start of the thread.
    Stay calm, talk to your union with whom you can share details in a way you can't here and try to balance what's best for you with the demands of the school. Maybe you need a couple of days thinking space.
    install and SundaeTrifle like this.
  18. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    My place has a policy which says it’s will not discipline staff for genuine mistakes and accidental breaches. It would only discipline staff for deliberate refusal to follow GDPR regulations.

    In this case, it is clearly a mistake. An accidental breach. The Op hasn’t taken data and then deliberately contravened school regulations about the storage. I’d sit tight. No tribunal would ever back this as a sackable offence. Every single one of us has sent an email to the wrong person or clicked reply all instead of reply to one person.
  19. Mr_Frosty

    Mr_Frosty Established commenter

    It's not always as clear cut as the examples given - the email addresses could have been something like:

    grade9students@school.com and grade9teachers@school.com

    if you were to type 'grade9' in to the address bar then it would be a pretty easy mistake to make. I'm not sure this type of set up exists in schools but I have experienced similar situations to staff at different sites in my previous career.
    install and agathamorse like this.
  20. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    I find post #1 strange.

    I rather echo what others have already put.
    Sending an email to students (plural) that contains pupils name is not necessarily a big wow. Not particularly impressive either.
    Why are you asking on here for advice? If you want to leave then why are asking on here for advice?

    Contact your union and ask for advice.
    As to "can the school discipline you for GDPR", these things depends, on mnay things;
    on what your contract actually reads,
    were you given any training,
    on what was actually in the email, if it was personal information or something senstive then it is more of a problem that a list of results for an internal test,

    but most of all, how evil the SLT are ...

    I know of staff summoned by the SLT for daring to have a drink in a pub on a Saturday night whilst not at work.... you could hear the response in the staff room.

    I have verbally dismantled many insane comments and demands from SLT members.

    Which brings me back as to why you not wanting to go back. You say that are so unhappy with your job you do not want to go back, why is that? Why did you "break down" in the head's office?

    And if you eventually resign, remember , it is not the end of the world.

    sbkrobson likes this.

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