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gross misconduct question

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by smirnoffice, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. smirnoffice

    smirnoffice New commenter

    Would be interested in hearing any views / opinions / comments on the following.

    Would it be considered an act of gross misconduct for a member of staff to deliberately erase all data / documents / work from a school laptop in order to prevent people from gaining access to this work?

    I personally think it would, due to the apparent breakdown of trust between parties.

    Any comments?

  2. cheesypop

    cheesypop Senior commenter

    Has the member of staff erased it from their own school laptop, or someone else's?

    Is there a copy saved somewhere else?

    Does the work belong to the person specifically or to the school? (Generally resources produced during work time can be considered to 'belong' to the school).

    If you have deleted items from your school laptop that you are handing back because you are leaving? Maybe? Then I don't think that is gross misconduct, especially if you have a copy elsewhere that you can provide if asked.

    Deleting someone else's documents and data from their laptop out of spite might be though!
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Impossible to answer on that limited information other than to say it might be it might not.

    "breakdown of trust between parties" isn't misconduct although one of the consequences of Gross Misconduct might well be a breakdown of trust between parties. If you get dismissed for gross misconduct you get dismissed for gross misconduct, not for breakdown of trust between parties.

    Is there no backup if it's on a school laptop?
  4. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    I always cleared all documents off a school laptop before returning it to the IT dept. I assumed that was good etiquette, tbh.

    No-one ever complained.
  5. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    The basic legal rule is that the first owner of copyright in a work is its creator, but there is an important exception. If someone creates work in the course of employment then, unless the contract of employment says differently, the first owner of copyright will be the employer, usually the school or the education authority, not the teacher.

    John Bowers QC, an employment specialist, says: "The scope of a teacher's employment covers not only teaching but also designing lessons and creating ancillary material. If materials are created in order to assist classroom teaching, particularly but not necessarily within work time, then those materials will belong to the school."

    I assume the OP indicates that the teacher has deleted work such as that described above.

    In which case, yes - it could well be gross misconduct, deleting the school's data and files from the school's laptop with the intention of depriving the school access to them.
  6. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    Surely depends on whether he was told not to...What the general practice was in that school when returning laptops...and whether the documents were backed up elsewhere as well.
  7. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Read the OP

  8. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Deliberate -vs- accidental would be important, but more important is

    ie, the teacher's motivation for the erasure. That could be harder to prove than the fact of erasure but would be key to a finding of gross misconduct.

    It would also be relevant how important the documents were to the school. Destroying the only copy of all the resources for an entire core subject GCSE course might be considered more serious misconduct than than deleting a few minor worksheets.
  9. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    It depends. Is this the teacher's own work or is it owned by the school? Reason I ask, if it is the teacher's personal... Nothing can be done. However, if it Is owned by the school... It can be viewed as a gross misconduct offence. Having said that, resources created for the school are usually stored on the public drive/ share point which unless the teacher is an administrator to the IT systems or knows passwords to access... It will be very hard for them to do this.
  10. How would you know exactly what documents were stored on the laptop in the first place?
  11. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Why don't you attribute your sources? It's rude not to.
  12. ....also how could you prove it was done to prevent others from accessing it?
  13. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

  14. ThereAreBunniesInMyHead

    ThereAreBunniesInMyHead Occasional commenter

    A member of staff at my school was dismissed for misconduct (not gross misconduct) after deliberately erasing all the resources for two KS3 classes to prevent his replacement from accessing them. He admitted doing this in writing to several members of staff including the head which I think was his downfall! He was clearly being very petty and aggressive about it. The school classed it as destruction of school property.
  15. Well that was stupid wasn't it ............ and then to admit to doing it even more so.

    I don't agree with this sort of behaviour. It is petty but are there any clear guidelines in schools about this sort of thing.

    I will clear out everything from my personal space on the school system when I leave, in a similar way to how I would clear out my cupboards. I obviously won't delete anything on the whole school drive and I will put there things that I think might be useful.

    An interesting point is that I get a lot of stuff from the TES resources - do these become school property when I use them?
  16. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    OP - don't do it. I know you're hurting! But this would be cutting your nose off to spite your face!.

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