LawSense Best Practice Privacy, Note-Taking & Record-Keeping in Schools

Examining Best Practice to Ensure You Meet Your Obligations, Minimise Legal Exposure and Can Defend Your Legal Position

Date27 August 2024
Time12.00pm-3.45 pm AEST (Syd/Mel/Bris time)
FormatLive Online & Recorded. The recording can be viewed until 27 September 2024
Pricing$440. Prices includes gst.
CPDThis PD addresses 7.2.2. of the Standards


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12.00    LawSense Welcome

12.05    Chairperson’s Introduction

Brenton Harty, Director of ICT and Privacy Officer, Presbyterian Ladies’ College, Melbourne

12.10    Privacy, Access to and Disclosure of Information: Examining Optimum Access for Different Staff and The Limits of Disclosure to Parents and Others

Key Privacy and Confidentiality Laws and Potential Reforms

  • Outlining key laws applying to privacy, confidentiality and information sharing in schools
  • Examining potential privacy reforms and impacts on schools

Access Within a School

  • Examining the elements to consider in deciding what information different staff or departments within the school should be able to access
  • Exploring optimum access and sharing within a school of student information, including access to and sharing of:
    • medical information, including parent medical information
    • disability assessments and reasonable adjustments
    • counselling records
    • parent financial information
    • school investigations and police information

Staff Issues and Disclosure

  • Understanding what you can disclose to staff when you are dealing with complaints they have made against other staff
  • Examining what you can disclose to other staff and the school community when staff are being investigated or are facing / have been subject to internal or external disciplinary action
  • Examining what information you can disclose about staff mental health issues
  • Exploring what information you can provide school staff about disputes with parents

Disclosing to Parents, the School Community and External Experts

  • Understanding the types of records often required by parents
  • Examining obligations to share student information with parents including:
  • school internal notes or correspondence – what can be required for disclosure?
  • providing student records:
      • sharing and consent from mature minors
      • dealing with information sharing with separated parents
  • Complaints of bullying against students – what information can you provide to affected parents about the other student, their family and steps taken
  • Navigating disclosure to the school community where there has been an incident or issue, including when it has received media coverage
  • Managing disclosure to external experts dealing with student mental health, disability of behaviour issues

Leah Mooney, Director, KPMG Law

1.10      Break

1.25      Note-Taking in Schools: Examining Best Practice and Case Studies to Ensure You Meet Your Obligations, Minimise Legal Exposure and Can Defend Your Legal Position

Legal Obligations and Key Principles

  • Outlining note-taking and record keeping obligations and guides affecting schools, including the impact of recommendations on note-taking and record keeping from the Royal Commission
  • Examining key aspects of note-taking to meet legal risk and avoid criticism by Courts:
    • level of detail or clarity
    • ensuring you cover key aspects
    • “loaded” words from which inferences could be drawn about the writer
    • writing what you observe versus what you think is happening
    • properly and clearly setting out the basis of any opinions expressed
    • accurately recording conversations, including hearsay
    • making changes to notes after they were originally written

Case Studies and Examples – Best Practice Notetaking in Different Areas

  • Student disability:
    • examining what you should record for legal protection and funding audits:
      • recording diagnosis/diagnosis management and assessment
      • evidence of assessment of adjustments
      • evidence of parent consultation
      • liaison with external experts
    • Student discipline and expulsions – case studies and examples:
      • identifying particular considerations in taking notes of conversations with students of different ages
      • exploring important aspects to record where there is a serious discipline issue
    • Conflicts with parents – case studies and examples:
      • examining how parents can use notes or other communications between staff as evidence in action against the school
      • outlining how school staff records can be used in Family Court proceedings
      • exploring what to record in dealing with difficult parents
    • Performance management and dismissals – case studies and examples:
      • understanding when you should be documenting and dealing with informal conversations
      • outlining key aspects to record regarding:
        • incidents of poor performance
        • complaints from other staff or parents
        • informal conversations
        • formal performance management meetings
        • show cause meetings

Ben Tallboys, Principal, Russell Kennedy Lawyers; Legal Consultant to Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA)

2.25      Break

2.40      Record Storage, Retention and Destruction: Understanding Obligations and Assessing Records to Ensure You Meet Differing Requirements for Various Record Types

  • Outlining laws applying to document storage and retention in schools
  • Managing records in different formats – email, text, social media, paper
  • Clarifying what types of documents need to be kept and for what period, including:
    • student email and laptop data
    • behaviour and discipline records
    • accident records
    • medical and mental health information
    • disability and support
    • investigations
    • job applications and other staff data
  • Understanding your obligations to destroy or de-identify particular data
  • Exploring measures to accurately classify or categorise documents to assist compliance with document destruction and retention requirements

Andrew Nicholson, Partner, Mullins Lawyers

3.40      Chairperson’s Conclusion

3.45      Event Close

Presenters / panelists include:

Brenton Harty boasts four decades of experience in education, spanning roles as a teacher, digital learning manager, and ICT Manager within both government and independent schools. Presently, he holds the dual roles of Director of ICT and Privacy Officer at Presbyterian Ladies’ College Melbourne, while also serving as President of MITIE, a national organization dedicated to representing ICT professionals in the education sector.
Leah Mooney is a cyber security and privacy professional best known for helping organisations to identify and understand cyber risk, data breach management and cyber resilience planning. Leah is a legal consultant for MinterEllison. As part of this role she coaches clients affected by data breaches in the strategic management of their legal and regulatory obligations.
Ben Tallboys provides sector-specific, practical legal solutions to schools across Australia. Ben is a passionate and effective advocate for principals dealing with complex matters relating to parents, staff and students, as well as their own employment.
Andrew Nicholson helps clients protect, enhance, commercialise and enforce their intellectual property rights; and advises on commercial and business matters including structuring, asset protection, contract terms, privacy and data.

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