Delgado puts 2 employees on leave after possible student privacy violation

Delgado Community College has put two employees on paid leave and is currently investigating a possible invasion of student privacy. The school will not identify the staff or tell them why they were on leave. Their action came Wednesday after WDSU Investigates provided an audio recording that practical nursing student Mark Winchester made during an online class in mid-March. The recording can be heard of the class teacher talking to the program coordinator on the phone during a lunch break in the class. Other students in the class could hear the conversation as well. Winchester said before starting his recording the two discussed his criminal background. His report includes a conviction for violating a protection order and an arrest for cyberstalking, a charge that has been denied by prosecutors. He has served the required sentence for his violation and had to undergo a background check in order to register with Delgado. The audio file Winchester made available to WDSU contains no discussion of his arrest or conviction. “You know every single violation I’ve committed in the past 10 years,” said Winchester. The instructor and program coordinator then discusses what could be done to remove Winchester from the program. “In this situation we want him out of here,” the program coordinator can be heard saying. She then asks the instructor which faculty member should supervise Winchester when he begins his clinical training in a nursing home. The instructor replies that she oversees Winchester, which the program coordinator thinks is good. “Because if he makes it to the nursing home and does something unsafe … that would be our reason to fire him,” the program coordinator tells the instructor. The coordinator later reminds the instructor that his discussion should be kept confidential. “Oh, I’m not going to do it again. You don’t have to worry about that,” replies the instructor. Shortly thereafter, another student in the online class informs the instructor that their conversation can be heard. “You are not dumb, FYI,” says the student. “Oh sir,” the instructor replies before apparently turning off her microphone. LeRoy Rooker is a premier family education and data protection agency protecting various student records from the public. He trains school administrators in FERPA compliance and was responsible for the Family Policy Compliance Office of the US Department of Education for 21 years. According to Rooker, the content of the discussion between the Delgado instructor and the coordinator is unproblematic for federal law. “The problem was getting that information out to other students. That would be the potential for injury,” he told Tony Cook, Delgado spokesman, in an email statement that the school would “take the necessary steps to address this issue.” to solve”. “Delgado is committed to protecting student privacy and complying with all relevant laws and guidelines,” the statement said. “Every report of a FERPA violation is taken seriously and investigated by college officials. We strive to ensure the success of every Delgado student.” Delgado is unlikely to be penalized as a result of this incident, Rooker said. Federal education officials usually choose to bring schools into line with FERPA, though those who oppose or repeatedly break the law risk losing federal funds. Winchester remains enrolled in the nursing program and said he intends to complete it. After a near-fatal car accident in 1988, he was given social security disability insurance. His brain injury still has a minor impact on his speech and he has limits on the amount of information he can take in at one time. Winchester said the only previous problem he had with his teacher was when she confronted him because he was late for class. Otherwise, he said he met the class requirements and passed the tests. Before starting the hands-on nursing program in January, Winchester said he spent two years and thousands of dollars taking the courses required to qualify. “Regardless of the financial (cost), it’s the emotional and time that I put into it,” he said. “… that’s about nothing. Nothing happened.”

Delgado Community College has put two employees on paid leave and is currently investigating a possible invasion of student privacy. The school will not identify the staff or tell them why they were on leave.

The action came Wednesday after WDSU Investigates provided an audio recording made by practical nursing student Mark Winchester during an online class in mid-March. The recording can be heard of the class teacher talking to the program coordinator on the phone during a lunch break in the class. Other students in the class could also hear the conversation.

Winchester said before starting his recording the two discussed his criminal background. His report includes a conviction for violating a protection order and an arrest for cyberstalking, a charge that has been denied by prosecutors. He has served the required sentence for his violation and had to undergo a background check in order to register with Delgado.

The audio file Winchester made available to WDSU contains no discussion of his arrest or conviction.

“You know every single violation I’ve committed in the past 10 years,” said Winchester.

The instructor and program coordinator will then discuss what could be done to remove Winchester from the program.

“In this situation we want him out of here,” the program coordinator can be heard saying.

She then asks the instructor which faculty member should supervise Winchester when he begins his clinical training in a nursing home. The instructor replies that she oversees Winchester, which the program coordinator thinks is good.

“Because if he makes it to the nursing home and does something unsafe … that would be our reason to fire him,” the program coordinator tells the instructor.

The coordinator later reminds the trainer that his discussion should be kept confidential.

“Oh, I’m not going to do it again. You don’t have to worry about that,” replies the instructor.

Shortly thereafter, another student in the online class informs the instructor that their conversation can be heard.

“You are not dumb, FYI,” says the student.

“Oh sir,” replies the instructor before apparently turning off her microphone.

LeRoy Rooker is a premier family education and data protection law agency protecting various student records from the public. He trains school administrators in FERPA compliance and was responsible for the Family Policy Compliance Office of the US Department of Education for 21 years.

According to Rooker, the content of the discussion between the Delgado instructor and the coordinator is unproblematic for federal law.

“The problem was getting that information out to other students. That would be where the potential for injury lies,” he said.

Delgado spokesman Tony Cook said in an email statement that the school would “take the necessary steps to resolve this matter”.

“Delgado is committed to protecting student privacy and complying with all relevant laws and guidelines,” the statement said. “Every report of a FERPA violation is taken seriously and investigated by college officials. We strive to ensure the success of every Delgado student.”

Delgado is unlikely to be penalized as a result of this incident, Rooker said. Federal education officials usually choose to bring schools into line with FERPA, though those who oppose or repeatedly break the law risk losing federal funds.

Winchester remains enrolled in the nursing program and said he intends to complete it. After a near-fatal car accident in 1988, he was given social security disability insurance. His brain injury still has a minor impact on his speech and he has limits on the amount of information he can take in at one time.

Winchester said the only previous problem he had with his teacher was when she confronted him because he was late for class. Otherwise, he said he met the class requirements and passed the tests. Before Winchester began the hands-on nursing program in January, he spent two years and thousands of dollars taking the required qualification courses.

“Regardless of the financial (cost), it’s the emotional and time I put into it,” he said. “… that’s about nothing. Nothing happened.”

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