One of the final candidates to announce a run for the Chilliwack school board alleges a decade-long privacy breach of student information at School District 33.
Brian Mielke was in the news in February when he expressed his concerns about a privacy breach that took place between 2005 and 2015 involving the district’s participation in a research study at the University of Oregon.
Approximately 1,000 names of students in the district were shared with researchers. Mielke said he did an FOI request to access his child’s student file, and what he got back involved documents that were heavily redacted but included many student names unredacted.
“I immediately became concerned,” he said at the time. “There are very clear privacy laws of data not crossing the border.”
The School District did admit their actions did not fully satisfy the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, but it said the risk of any adverse impact on individual privacy was minimal.
In announcing he will run for school board, Mielke said the oversight or the mistake with the privacy breach points to a larger problem.
“The big picture point of concern is that if Trustees are disregarding their duties, the law, their oath, and the safety of children; then what other risks are we exposing our children to when we vote them in?” he wrote.
On other issues, Mielke said he felt parents were being left out of education and that Parent Advisory Councils “have been related to largely a fundraising role.”
Mielke also addressed the SOGI 123 controversy, coming firmly on the side of the anti-bullying teaching resource.
“It is not acceptable to expose any child to any form of bullying or elevated risk of suicide,” Mielke said. “I was disappointed to read that the most vocal anti-SOGI trustee had engaged in a shameful, disrespectful, and unwarranted attack on the president of our District Parent Advisory Council.”
The latter statement refers to incumbent trustee Barry Neufeld who launched a letter-writing campaign against DPAC chair Justine Hodge. She received so many letters in 24 hours, some hate-filled, that she started a file with the RCMP.
Mielke added that moving forward, the school board should focus on areas of actual importance, such as strategic direction, funding, and advocating for low-income students.