A SCHOOL which suspended a woman over an alleged data protection breach has been criticised after a friend went to pick up her belongings and was given confidential information on 173 vulnerable families.
Maryska Dewitt, 51, was suspended from her role as a child protection officer after allegedly breaching confidentiality – a charge she vehemently denies.
But when she asked a friend to go to the school to pick up some of her belongings, she says boxes containing information on vulnerable families were handed over to her.
Ms Dewitt said staff at Spen Valley Sports College even helped load the documents into her friend’s car without checking who she was.
The boxes also contained private computer access codes and email addresses of staff responsible for working and protecting the children within the school system.
Ms Dewitt said: “I couldn’t believe it when she unloaded the car.
“These boxes contained documents on some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
“There were previous complaints, psychological assessments, everything. If they had fallen into the wrong hands it could have been catastrophic.
“It’s ironic that I have been suspended for a breach in data protection but was trusted with these documents.
“They didn’t even check any of her ID. She simply walked in there to pick up a couple of my things and was given all of these boxes full of sensitive material.
“She could have been anyone and yet I’m the one suspended for a data protection issue.”
She added: “I called the school immediately and said they needed to collect the boxes straight away. I knew I couldn’t have them in my home.
“I even missed a meeting which was being held to discuss my future at the school because I didn’t feel I could leave the documents in the house alone. They are that important.”
Ms Dewitt – who has worked with children for over 20 years – denies any contravention of strict data protection laws after she was suspended in September for allegedly imparting confidential information on vulnerable children.
A spokesperson for Spen Valley Sports College said: “An error was made by a member of staff which was quickly realised.
“Immediate attempts to put this right and retrieve the material were refused by Ms Dewitt despite the college’s best efforts, as were requests for retrieval until 4pm the following day.
“At this stage we do not feel it is appropriate to make any further comment”.