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Personal Data

Concerns over children's information being shared

The Data Protection Commissioner has contacted five schools, which may share sensitive personal information of their students.

THREE VOCATIONAL Education Committees have been contacted by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner because of concerns raised by parents about information being sought by some schools.

Five schools were targeted by the Data Commissioner, each of which requested information related to religious affiliation.

The form given to parents to fill out says that the information provided may be shared with other local primary schools.

Of the five schools concerns two are already operating and three are due to open in September.

In a letter to the VECs, the Commissioner outlined that religious affiliation is a sensitive area that has special protections under legislation.

It informs the VECs that if it requests such information it is necessary to explicitly outline who will have access to the information and for what purposes.

Speaking to RTÉ, Co Meath’s VEC said that wording was a mistake and they never meant to share information with other schools.

The Department of Education may be in breach of Data Protection legislation because of the way it gathering and processing students’ personal information.

Over the past number of years the Department of Education has been requesting – and sometimes obliging – both primary and second-level schools to gather and share students’ private information like PPS numbers, medical card status, or membership of the Travelling Community.

The Department of Education has said it takes any issue brought to its attention by the Data Protection Commissioner seriously. It said that arranging to gain explicit consent from parents in relation to the gathering sensitive pupil data.

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