Toronto public school principal allegedly spied on by staff for months

An email allegedly sent by the Ontario Principals’ Council to administrators reveals that a principal was watched for months on suspicions of professional misconduct.

According to reports, it was suspected that Courtney Carroll of Jack Miner Public School was using work time to write a book. Carroll has denied the allegation and the Toronto District School Board says it is unable to comment on specific investigations.

“On rare occasions, yes, we’ve used these (cameras) in past years, and that is something that has been used successfully in some cases. But it is on extremely rare cases they would be used,” said Ryan Bird, spokesperson for the Toronto District School Board.

He said at any given time, there could be around ten cameras like this in use across the district. Lawyers say it could be illegal if employees are not informed that surveillance cameras are potentially being used on them.

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“My personal thought is that this is entirely outrageous. It’s illegal, the principal should sue for the invasion of his privacy; and if I was a principal in that school board, I would seriously consider whether I want to work there,” said Howard Levitt, senior partner at law firm Levitt Grosman.

We reached out to both the Ontario Principals’ Council and Mr. Carroll, but they were unable to comment.

Ann Cavoukian, Executive Director at Ryerson University’s Privacy and Big Data Institute says undercover surveillance should only be used by police in serious, criminal matters.

“The only acceptable use of this would be in a law enforcement context when police are conducting an investigation. I don’t think that took place here. To do this type of cloak and dagger activity, without any potential warranted understanding of it, I think is completely unacceptable,” said Cavoukian.

Bird says currently the TDSB is not using any hidden cameras in its schools, and they are reviewing their policies on the controversial practice.

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