HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Schools May Feed Students' Info To Police
Pubdate: Wed, 26 May 2004
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2004 The Province
Author: Elaine O'Connor
Bookmark: (Youth)


Vancouver police could soon have access to thousands of student
records on demand, if a Vancouver School Board information-sharing
project gets the go-ahead.

School trustees met last night to discuss supplying police with
Personal Digital Assistants programmed with names, addresses, birth
dates, phone numbers, photographs and timetables of every student in
the board's 18 high schools.

Police could call up student records on the devices using
"Principalm," software from Abbotsford-based Discovery Software Ltd.
The board would download student information to the system twice a

Police proposed the project to the board as a way to facilitate
investigations of school crime, gang activity, and child abductions.

If the Vancouver proposal goes through, it would be the first time in
the Lower Mainland for a school board and police department to share
student information this way.

"It would seem shocking to me if my employer did that," trustee Andrea
Reimer said. "Where's the line there?"

Assistant Superintendent Gary Little said staff were aware of "the
need to ensure the safety of our students, at the same time respect
their right to privacy."

"The concern I think everybody has, and rightly has, is the sense of
Big Brother finding his way in," he told last night's meeting.

Currently, student records are in a central database and police
request information on a need-to-know basis.

Sgt. Garry Lester of the police school liaison unit said the impetus
for the program is a decrease in the number of school liaison
officers: down from 15 to seven last year (with four since
reinstated), which made keeping tabs on students more difficult.

The police department would fund the project. About a dozen officers
would receive Personal Digital Assistants programmed with student records.

"Only certain officers in the police department [would be] allowed to
access these files," said trustee John Cheng.

Security passwords could be enacted on the PDAs "just in the off
chance that a PDA went missing, which would be a huge concern," Little

Trustees will discuss the proposal at an upcoming meeting.

Little said B.C.'s privacy commissioner has asked the board to
complete a privacy assessment if they go ahead.
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