1 A Resource for Parents, Teachers, and Administrators A Joint Project of The Toronto District School Board and The Information and Privacy Commissioner, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Revised November 2012
2 The Information and Privacy Commissioner of would like to acknowledge and thank Ms. Mary Neelands of the Toronto District School Board for her participation in this publication. This publication is also available on the IPC website. Toronto District School Board 155 College Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1P Fax: Website: Information and Privacy Commissioner 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8 CANADA Fax: TTY (Teletypewriter): Website:
3 Table of Contents 1. Collection of Personal Information by a School or a School Board 2. Correction of Personal Information 3. School Photographs 4. School Yearbooks 5. Health Card Numbers 6. Separated Spouses 7. Trustee Records 8. Confidential Reports 9. Information requested from a School or a School Board by the CAS 10. Police Services
4 FAQ #1 Revised November 2012 Collection of Personal Information by a School or a School Board Q. The school regularly telephones or sends home forms asking for information. Some of the questions relate to matters that I consider to be personal and private information. I ve wondered why they need this information and if I am required to give it to them. What are the rules about collecting information about my children and, in some cases, other members of our family? The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act sets out how and under what circumstances personal information may be collected about you, your child and your family. By definition, personal information is recorded information about an identifiable individual, including information relating to race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, education, medical history, psychiatric, psychological, or criminal history, employment history; any identifying number or symbol, address, telephone number, fingerprints, blood type; personal opinions except if they relate to another individual; and name if it appears with other personal information or where it would reveal other personal information. In order for a school (principal, vice-principal, teacher, secretary, or any other school or board employee) to collect personal information, it must meet the following standard: 1. the collection of the information must be expressly authorized by a statute; 2. the information is used for the purposes of law enforcement; or 3. the collection is necessary to the proper administration of a lawfully authorized activity; in the case of a school, this would be the proper administration of education. This standard can be considered the authority for the school to collect personal information. Once the school has the authority to collect personal information, there are standards for the way it is collected. Particularly: in most cases, the information must be collected directly from the individual (you, or your child, if the child is old enough); and you must be given notice of the collection of the information. The notice must contain the following information: the authority for the collection; the primary purpose or purposes for which the information will be
5 used; and the title, business address and business tele phone number of a person who can answer questions about the collection. Despite the authority and the standards, there are a limited number of specific circumstances where these standards for collection of personal information do not apply. Consider the following example where personal information is collected and how the authority and the standards for collection apply. When you register your child in school, you will be asked to provide the following information: name of child, address, telephone number, date of birth, language, citizenship information, and immigration status (if applicable); parent/guardian information including name, address, telephone, language for correspondence, and health card number; last Ontario school and board attended; other information regarding health, transportation, custody, etc. The first question to ask is, Does the school board have the authority to collect this information? The simple answer is, Yes. This is because section 58.5 of the Education Act enables your school board to operate its business and to deliver a wide range of programs and services to students. Section 265 requires the principal to register students and to maintain pupil records according to Ministry requirements. The next question to ask is, Is the information being collected properly? Properly in this instance means: (a) that it is being collected directly from an adult student (adult in the Education Act is defined as 18 years of age or older), or directly from the parent or guardian of a student who is not an adult; and, (b) that the adult student, parent or guardian is given the required notice about the collection (e.g., authority, primary purpose for which the personal information will be used, and a contact person). All of this information will be put into what is known as a collection notice. It is usually printed on the form used to collect the information; but it can also be included in student handbooks or agendas or posted on the school board s website. For an example, we have included the Simcoe County District School Board s collection notice: Notification of the Collection and Use of Student Personal Information The purpose of this communication is to notify you of how the Simcoe County District School Board and your school use the personal information you provide to us in accordance with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). The MFIPPA is a law that sets guidelines that schools and district school boards must follow when collecting, using and/or and disclosing students personal information. Under this Act, personal information refers to recorded information about an identifiable individual. The Education Act sets out duties and powers of the Board and authorizes school boards to collect personal information for the purpose of planning and delivering educational programs and services which best meet students needs and for reporting to the Minister of Education as required. This Act requires that the school principal maintain an Ontario Student Record (OSR) for each student attending the school. The OSR is a record of a student s educational progress through school in Ontario and follows students when they transfer schools. The Ontario Student Record Guideline sets out how the record is to be managed. The Simcoe County District School Board adheres to this OSR guideline.
6 Under the MFIPPA, personal information may be used or disclosed by the Simcoe County District School Board: for the purpose for which it was obtained or a consistent purpose (a purpose consistent for the reason collected); to Board officers or employees who need access to the information in the performance of their duties if necessary and proper in the discharge of the Board s authorized functions; to comply with legislation, a court order or subpoena or to aid in a law enforcement investigation conducted by a law enforcement agency; and, in compelling circumstances affecting health or safety (providing notice of the disclosure is sent to the student s home). Prior to releasing confidential information for any other purpose, the school will seek informed consent from the parent/guardian for children under 16 years of age, from the parent/guardian and the student where the student is 16 and 17, and from the student where the student is over 18 or the student is 16 or 17 years of age and has withdrawn from parental control, in accordance with both MFIPPA and the Education Act. It is our practice to include a notice statement on forms used to collect personal information to advise you how we will use and disclose the information. To help you understand how we use the information you provide to us, we draw your attention to the following routine uses and/or disclosures of student personal information so that you may express any concerns you may have regarding the release and sharing of the information: Routine Uses and/or Disclosures of Student Personal Information The student s OSR will be used by school and board staff to support the classroom teacher and designated early childhood educators in developing an educational program which best meets the student s needs. Staff working with the classroom teacher or directly with the student may include individuals working in areas such as Special Education, guidance counselling, student success, etc. In keeping with the requirements of the Education Act and the Personal Health Information Protection Act, informed consent will be sought prior to conducting intelligence or behavioural tests, or prior to the involvement of Psychological, Speech and Language or Social Worker staff. Secondary schools will receive information about registered Grade 8 students in advance of the student attending the secondary school to help establish an appropriate program for the student. The secondary school will share information about each student s progress through secondary school with the student s previous elementary school to support continuous improvement of the elementary school program for all students. Student home addresses may be released to the Simcoe County Student Transportation Consortium and the contracted bus company responsible for transporting students to and from school in order to administer the Board s contracted bus program. School activities may be reported in school and Board newsletters, and on school and Board websites. Individual students will only be photographed and identified with appropriate consents. The media, such as newspapers, television and radio, may be invited to the school for the purpose of reporting on newsworthy events or activities such as graduations, student achievements/awards, and current events. Their reports may include non-
7 identifying photos of groups of students. Individual students would only be photographed or identified with appropriate consent. Students participating in extra-curricular activities or events where the public is invited, i.e. field trips, school concerts, school teams, may be photographed and/or reported on by media or the general public. Students may be recorded or photographed by their classroom teacher in school or during school activities as part of their educational program. Photos may be shared with the class and parents as appropriate. Students may participate in video conferencing (a technology which allows for two or more locations to interact via simultaneous two-way video and audio transmissions) to support the classroom program. Conferences may be organized with students in other SCDSB schools, students in other countries and or as virtual field trips. Phone numbers will be used on telephone lists. Examples include: emergency contact lists to facilitate contact with parents during emergencies (e.g. inclement weather); safe arrival programs, which may be staffed by parent volunteers, to contact parents where a student is absent and the parent/guardian has not notified the school of the absence; volunteers, authorized by the Principal, to contact parents regarding school-related activities which benefit the student and the school community and require parent involvement. Parents/guardians/adult students are asked to complete Student Medical/Health Data forms for the purpose of developing a medical emergency plan for the student or Administration of Medication in School forms for the purpose of administering medication to the student. Medical emergency plans may also be provided to the Simcoe County Transportation Consortium and/or contracted bus operators to aid in a medical emergency. In compliance with the Personal Health Information Protection Act, student health numbers (OHIP) will not be collected; however parents/guardians/ students may be invited to volunteer such information for students going on field trips to facilitate medical services if needed. Student work, including student names, may be displayed in the classroom or in school hallways, or may be shared with the public through science fairs, school and board newsletters, writing/colouring/ poster contests, community events, fairs, and similar events/locations outside the school setting. Student accidents that take place during school or on school-sponsored activities will be reported to the SCDSB insurer. Reports include the name of the injured student(s) and details about the incident as well as the name and contact information of witnesses to the accident. Birthday congratulations may be announced over the PA system and/or in the classrooms. Class lists with student first names and last initial only may be distributed to other parents for the purpose of addressing greeting cards or invitations in connection with holidays, birthday parties, etc. Surveillance equipment may be used in schools and on buses to enhance the safety of students and staff, to protect property against theft or vandalism, and to aid in the identification of intruders and of persons who endanger the health, wellbeing or safety of school community members. Student names and/or photographs may be printed in school programs (e.g. commencement or graduation programs, school plays and musical
8 productions, student awards, academic and athletic awards and plaques, school brochures, honour roll and classroom assignment during school and semester start up) and in school yearbooks. Questions regarding the information contained in this notification may be addressed to the School Principal or the Freedom of Information/Records Management Officer, 1170 Highway 26, Midhurst, ON LOL 1X0, (705) ext Please communicate any concerns you have with regards to the sharing of personal information in any or all of the above-mentioned by contacting the school principal as soon as possible. The above will apply unless an objection is filed with the Principal and an alternative resolution can be found. is published by the Toronto District School Board and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. If you have any comments regarding this publication, contact: 30% recycled paper Senior Administrative Services Toronto District School Board 155 College Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1P6 Telephone: Facsimile: Website: Communications Department Information and Privacy Commissioner 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8 Canada Telephone: Facsimile: TTY (Teletypewriter): Website:
9 FAQ #2 Revised November 2012 Correction of Personal Information What can I do if I believe that the school has inaccurate information on file about my child? Your first step would be to seek access to the information the school has collected about your child. You could make a request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or you could seek access to your child s information using the provisions of the Education Act. You may use either or both routes to achieve your goal. You should be aware that these two pieces of legislation operate independently, have different processes and different rights and responsibilities, and they may also have different results. The access procedures under each of these Acts are set out in the following chart: Education Act The Education Act makes provision for a parent of a pupil under 18 years of age to examine the pupil s OSR, and if he or she is of the opinion that information is recorded inaccurately or is not beneficial to the instruction of the pupil, he or she can ask that it be corrected or removed. (section 266, ss. 3, 4, & 5) Make a request either in writing or verbally to the principal of your child s school to examine your child s Ontario Student Record (OSR). Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act The Act makes provisions for access and correction to personal information in any record. The right of a child under 16 years of age may be exercised by a person who has lawful custody of the child. (sections 36 38, 54) Make a request under the Act for access to your child s information. This request must be in writing; addressed to the School Board; identify the records requested clearly; and include the required fee of $5. The request is not made to the school.
10 Education Act If, in your opinion, the information is inaccurately recorded or not conducive to the improvement of instruction of your child, make a request in writing to the principal of the school, to correct the alleged inaccuracy or to remove the information. In the event that the principal refuses to comply with the request, you may, in writing, require the principal to refer the request to the appropriate supervisory officer (superintendent). The supervisory officer shall either require the principal to comply with the request or submit the request and the record to a person designated by the Minister. The person designated by the Minister will hold a hearing and, after the hearing, decide the matter. The decision of the person designated by the Minister is final and binding on the parties to the proceeding. Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act You should receive a decision letter within 30 days either granting you access to the records requested or denying you access to all or part of the records. If access is denied, you will be given specific details related to the refusal and information on how to seek a review of the decision by the Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC). If you appeal, you might also raise the issue of correction in the appeal. Note that there is a mandatory $10 fee for filing this type of an appeal with the IPC. Once you have evaluated the information forwarded from the institution and you believe there is an error or an omission, you may request correction of the personal information. It is important to note that the information at issue must be personal and private information; the information must be inexact, incomplete or ambiguous; and the correction cannot be a substitution of opinion. If the requested correction is not made, you can require that a statement of disagreement be attached to the information reflecting the correction. You may also require that any person or body to whom the information has been disclosed within the past year be notified of the correction or the statement of disagreement. Under the provisions of the Act, a requestor has the right to seek a judicial review of the IPC s decision. is published by the Toronto District School Board and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. If you have any comments regarding this publication, contact: 30% recycled paper Senior Administrative Services Toronto District School Board 155 College Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1P6 Telephone: Facsimile: Website: Communications Department Information and Privacy Commissioner 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8 Canada Telephone: Facsimile: TTY (Teletypewriter): Website:
11 FAQ #3 Revised November 2012 School Photographs I have a number of concerns about the use of photographs of children in school and school board publications and the media. I would prefer to know where and when my children s pictures will appear. What restrictions or rules apply here? Photographs are definitely personal information and therefore all the rules and provisions of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) apply. Personal information is defined as recorded information about an identifiable individual; and a record is any record of information however recorded, whether in printed form, on film, by electronic means or otherwise. Within a school or school board, personal information must be collected, used, and disclosed within the framework of the Act. Information should be collected only with proper authority and notice (see FAQ #1). Generally, it should be collected directly from the individual; and should be used or disclosed only in accordance with the provisions of the Act, including with the individual s consent, for the purpose for which it was collected, or for a consistent purpose. A consistent purpose is a use or disclosure that the individual might reasonably have expected to take place. This general framework applies to photographs as personal information. There are a number of circumstances where photographs are taken of school children, usually by professional photographers at the request of the school, but also in other circumstances. In most schools, a photographer comes once a year to take individual and class photographs for sale to parents and for use within the school. This practice has been a part of school and family life for decades. In spite of this practice, the taking of photographs for this purpose is not expressly authorized by a statute or necessary to the proper administration of a lawfully authorized activity as set out in the Act and, as such, a school should have the consent of the parent/guardian regarding the actual taking of the photographs, and the use or disclosure of the photographs. Before the photo day, the parent/guardian should receive notice that school photographs will be taken and afforded the opportunity to provide or refuse consent. In addition, the Information and Privacy Commissioner recommends that access and privacy protection provisions form part of any contract with a third-party service provider (in this case, the photographer). From time to time, photographers will request permission to photograph within the school setting. They may be from the local news media, working with a trustee from the board office, a researcher, etc. In all cases, the permission of the parent/guardian
12 is required for students under 18 years of age to take part in any such project. More informally, parents, teachers, and students will often take snapshots at sports events, school concerts, etc., and these photos will appear in the school newsletter or in photo displays within the school, etc. Where personal information is collected in the form of photographs taken by board employees, there should be clear notice of collection, including the authority for taking the photos, the purpose for which the photos will be used, and a contact person, and the consent of the individual to whom the information relates should be requested. A school should develop a workable policy regarding the taking of photographs of its students on school property or at school events by non-board employees. Such a policy should be developed in consultation with parents/guardians and communicated to them. Remember, these considerations should apply to all images, including photographs, postings to the Internet, films, and video recordings. Ideally, this policy should be based on the consent of the photographed subject or, if it is a student who is under age, that of the parent or guardian. If parents or students are concerned about the use of photographs within the school community or by the media, they should speak to the principal. It is not unreasonable for a parent to request that photographs of his or her child not be taken or used without particular consent. While the question asked concerns photographs, it is useful to note that these same considerations apply to interviews with students as well. A person s opinions or views, except if they relate to another individual, are defined as personal information as described in section 2(1) of the Act. is published by the Toronto District School Board and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. If you have any comments regarding this publication, contact: 30% recycled paper Senior Administrative Services Toronto District School Board 155 College Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1P6 Telephone: Facsimile: Website: Communications Department Information and Privacy Commissioner 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8 Canada Telephone: Facsimile: TTY (Teletypewriter): Website:
13 FAQ #4 Revised November 2012 School Yearbooks Our son is in high school and very involved in putting out the school yearbook. What are the privacy issues with regard to yearbooks? Do the provisions of the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) apply? School yearbooks are produced by students who are not employees of the board, however, yearbooks are produced under the aegis and control of the board, which means they should follow the usual privacy rules. Students and staff advisors decide on the content and format, and arrange for publication and sale, etc. Often schools have a photographer take photographs of class groupings, individual students, sports teams, clubs, etc., and copies may be included in the yearbook. There may also be snapshots of student events, writing by students, and student artwork. Teacher photos and comments are also often part of a student yearbook. Yearbooks are produced for sale, primarily to other students. They are often placed in the school library and sometimes in the local public library as well. Yearbooks chronicle the activities of the school and student body; they capture the activities of the student population; they record the staff; etc. For many students, current and past, they are a treasured volume. For many schools, they document their history. There is no doubt that yearbooks contain the personal information of students and staff and, therefore, attention should be paid to issues of privacy protection. According to section 32 of the Act, personal information can be used or disclosed only in certain circumstances, including for the purpose for which it was obtained or compiled, or for a consistent purpose, or with consent. A consistent purpose is a use or disclosure that the individual to whom the information relates might reasonably have expected to take place. Yearbooks may contain personal information which was collected for another purpose. The most common example is probably the class, individual, team, and club photographs. Usually a notice goes home about the professional photographer s visit; copies of the photos go home for purchase and such. Most people within the school community, particularly students and parents, expect that these photos, along with the appropriate identification, will be included in the school yearbook. Where there is a reasonable expectation of use, you have a consistent purpose. In the case where personal information is collected by the school and there is no basis for the application of the idea of consistent purpose, then the school would need to obtain appropriate consent before including the information in the yearbook.
14 Often material is solicited directly from students or submitted directly to the yearbook by the students in the course of producing the yearbook. This might include artwork, poetry, short stories or comments. By providing this material directly, the students or staff have implied their consent to its publication in the yearbook. In summary, yearbooks are published documents created by students for sale and/or distribution to students of the school and the school community. The staff and students working on the yearbook need to take reasonable care to determine that personal information that is included in the yearbook does not breach the right to privacy of others. Of course, this consent is being provided by students not parents. This may be an opportunity for parents and students to have a discussion about what may or may not be appropriate to include in a yearbook, remembering it will be around for a long time. is published by the Toronto District School Board and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. If you have any comments regarding this publication, contact: 30% recycled paper Senior Administrative Services Toronto District School Board 155 College Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1P6 Telephone: Facsimile: Website: Communications Department Information and Privacy Commissioner 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8 Canada Telephone: Facsimile: TTY (Teletypewriter): Website:
15 FAQ #5 Revised November 2012 Health Card Numbers My child s school sent home a form from the local health unit asking me to provide my child s health card number. I think this is an invasion of my child s privacy. Does the health unit have the right to request this information through the school? In most schools, the school just collects the information for the health unit. Usually, a copy of the completed form is not retained by the school. Regardless, your child s health card number is his/her personal information. Every time a government body collects information about an individual (personal information); the form on which you are asked to record the information should contain a notice of collection. The notice explains why the government body has the authority to request the information, because the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) states that no one shall collect personal information unless the collection is: expressly authorized by statute, or used for the purposes of law enforcement, or necessary to the proper administration of a lawfully authorized activity. The Act also says that such a notice must be given. Here is an example of a notice from a form requesting a child s health card number: Collection of this information is authorized under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, section 11 and the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, section 34. This information is used by the medical officer of health to maintain an immunization record of your child and take appropriate action to prevent certain vaccine-preventable diseases in the health unit. In this example, the health unit states that it is authorized by statute to collect the health card number in certain circumstances. It is saying that this authorization is found in the two statutes mentioned in the notice of collection, the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 and the Immunization of School Pupils Act. The health unit uses the health card number, name and date of birth of your child to ensure a pupil is properly immunized and eligible for publicly funded vaccines. In Ontario, the information is stored electronically using the three stated identifiers. These records serve administration purposes, including generating lists of pupils that are scheduled for immunization and monitoring a pupil s immunization status throughout his/her primary and secondary school years. For epidemiological reasons, a health unit generates lists of at risk students during outbreaks of disease. Reports are completed using this information. The other piece of legislation referred to in the sample notice of collection is the Immunization of School Pupils Act. Section 11 of that law authorizes every medical
16 officer of health to maintain a record of immunization in respect of each pupil attending school in the area served by the medical officer of health. The regulations passed pursuant to that Act state what information the medical officer of health can collect. Further, section 266(2.1) of the Education Act also requires that: The principal of a school shall, upon request by the medical officer of health serving the area in which the school is located, give that medical officer of health the following information in respect of pupils enrolled in the school: The pupil s name, address and telephone number; The pupil s birthdate; The name, address and telephone number of the pupil s parent or guardian. Additionally, section 1 of Regulation 645 under the Immunization of School Pupils Act provides that the record of immunization kept by the medical officer of health must contain the following information: The name of the pupil in full; The date of birth of the pupil; The sex of the pupil; The name of the school attended by the pupil; The medical officer of health may use this information if there is an outbreak of disease. Under section 12 of the Immunization of School Pupils Act, the medical officer of health may issue an order that requires a person who operates a school to exclude a pupil from the school in circumstances where: there is an outbreak or an immediate risk of an outbreak of a designated disease at the school the pupil attends; and the medical officer of health has not obtained either a statement of immunization signed by a physician or nurse in relation to the designated disease or a statement of medical exemption by reason of past infection or laboratory evidence of immunity. The health unit must have the Ontario health card number on record to enable it to provide the immunization status to any pupil or parent in its database. This ensures the accuracy of each record. Immunization records are transferred to other health unit jurisdictions within the province using the three identifiers. In this manner, pupils moving from one school board to another board have their records automatically transferred to the appropriate health unit. For more information about health card numbers, see Frequently Asked Questions: Health Cards and Health Numbers Personal Health Information Protection Act, on the IPC web site at The pupil s health card number; A record of all the pupil s immunization against designated diseases...; Any statement of medical exemption that pertains to the pupil showing the effective time period on the statement; and Any statement of religious belief that pertains to the pupil. is published by the Toronto District School Board and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. If you have any comments regarding this publication, contact: 30% recycled paper Senior Administrative Services Toronto District School Board 155 College Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1P6 Telephone: Facsimile: Website: Communications Department Information and Privacy Commissioner 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8 Canada Telephone: Facsimile: TTY (Teletypewriter): Website:
17 FAQ #6 Revised November 2012 Separated Spouses Do I have the right to receive information about how my child is doing in school? My spouse and I have separated. Our 12-yearold son is living with my spouse. Information about how your child is doing in school is considered to be your child s personal information. The collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by a school board is governed by the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). The Education Act also addresses the issues of collection, retention, and disclosure of a student s information. If you and your spouse are separated, the Child and Family Services Act, the Children s Law Reform Act, and the Divorce Act may be relevant. Education Act The Education Act expressly gives the parent/ guardian the right to examine student personal information compiled in the Ontario Student Record (OSR), where the student is less than 18 years of age. Because this right is not limited to custodial parents, a non-custodial parent will have the same right to access the student s OSR as the parent who has custody of the child. The basic criterion for records to be included in the OSR is that the information is considered to be conducive to the improvement of the instruction of the student. Some examples of the types of personal information included in the OSR are: report cards, transcripts of marks, health and psychological assessments, disciplinary notices, and attendance reports. MFIPPA Most parents request information directly from the school using the Education Act. However, parents may also make a formal request to the school board using MFIPPA. If your child is under 16 years of age, MFIPPA permits a person who has lawful custody of the child, whether a parent or a guardian, to obtain access to all of his or her child s personal information, including both the OSR and non- OSR records. Non-OSR records include all other types of personal information that a school board may collect. Some examples of non-osr records are: permission slips for students to attend field trips, class lists, records of marks for weekly tests, yearbook photographs of students with their names, and honour rolls. The relevant sections of MFIPPA state that any right or power conferred on an individual by MFIPPA may be exercised, if the individual is less than 16 years of age, by a person who has lawful custody of the individual. Lawful custody may mean that there is an agreement or a court order granting one parent custody. Alternatively, you and your spouse may have joint custody, in which case you both can exercise these rights. If you and your spouse
18 are living separately but do not have an agreement or court order which addresses custody, then both parents have custody of the child. However, if your spouse has custody and you only have access to your child, this section would not apply to your circumstances. A parent cannot use this section to obtain records to meet his/her own personal objectives rather than those of the child. The disclosures under this provision are required to be on behalf of the child and in the interests of the child and not for the parents interests. It may be helpful to note that section 50 of MFIPPA states that in the event that the head of an institution is permitted to disclose information under MFIPPA, nothing in the law prevents the head from giving access to the information in response to an oral request or in the absence of a request. Therefore, in the school system, if the head has delegated the decision-making powers to the principal, the principal may give access in response to an oral request. Other legislation If you do not meet the criteria described above, you may still obtain information about your child if the disclosure is expressly authorized by an Act of Ontario or Canada. Therefore, in deciding whether you may have access to this information, other legislation, such as the Child and Family Services Act, the Children s Law Reform Act and the Divorce Act, may be relevant. Which legislation is relevant, depends on the kind of information you are seeking and what the situation is between you and the child s other parent. Where a parent has access to a child, rather than custody, the parent is entitled to information about the health, education, and welfare of the child, under the Children s Law Reform Act. The Divorce Act also provides a right of access to information about the child s health, education and welfare, once a divorce application has commenced. In these cases, the consent of a child under the age of 16 is not required for these disclosures. (See IPC Orders M-787 and P-1246.) Other legislation, such as the Child and Family Services Act, may expressly authorize the disclosure of student personal information to parents/ guardians. By virtue of the Children s Law Reform Act, the disclosures referred to above to disclosures to both custodial and non-custodial parents who have rights of access. 1 See also FAQ #2 Correction of Personal Information 2 IPC Order P-673 is published by the Toronto District School Board and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. If you have any comments regarding this publication, contact: 30% recycled paper Senior Administrative Services Toronto District School Board 155 College Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1P6 Telephone: Facsimile: Website: Communications Department Information and Privacy Commissioner 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8 Canada Telephone: Facsimile: TTY (Teletypewriter): Website:
19 FAQ #7 Revised November 2012 Trustee Records I often talk to my school trustee about my concerns and ideas about things happening in my daughter s school. However, often I am looking for information and expressing my opinion on issues dealt with by the board, reports, studies, etc. How does access and privacy legislation relate to records kept by trustees? When dealing with records of the trustees, the elected members of the board, the important concept to understand is custody or control. The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act) sets out the rules governing an institution and the records within its custody or control. In the case of a school board, records within the custody or control of the school board may include records held by the elected trustees, depending on the circumstances. How do you know whether the Act applies to records held by trustees? In an early order of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, 10 questions were set out to help determine whether records were records within the custody or control of an institution and therefore under the Act. These questions are: 1. Was the record created by an officer or employee of the institution? 2. What use did the creator intend to make of the record? 3. Does the institution have possession of the record, either because it has been voluntarily provided by the creator or pursuant to a mandatory statutory or employment requirement? 4. If the institution does not have possession of the record, is it being held by an officer or employee of the institution for the purposes of his or her duties as an officer or employee? 5. Does the institution have a right to possession of the record? 6. Does the content of the record relate to the institution s mandate and functions? 7. Does the institution have the authority to regulate the record s use? 8. To what extent has the record been relied upon by the institution? 9. How closely is the record integrated with other records held by the institution? 10. Does the institution have the authority to dispose of the record? In later orders, the IPC has identified additional factors that are relevant to determining whether an institution that does not have possession of a record can be said to control the record.
20 Based on these factors, the following are examples of records that likely would be considered within the custody or control of a school board: trustee copies of public documents, such as agendas, minutes, and reports; records created by a trustee at the request of the board or on behalf of the board, such as correspondence or reports; and records created by a trustee while engaged in the work of the board. Records which are clearly the personal records of a trustee records which contain information that relates to the trustee and not to the institution or its functions would likely not be within the custody or control of the board and therefore not subject to the Act. Examples may include records relating to political matters, campaign strategies, election volunteers, fundraising, etc. When you discuss specific issues about the board or your child, these could fall into either category, depending on the circumstances. 1 IPC Order See for example IPC Orders MO-1251 and MO-1289 is published by the Toronto District School Board and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. If you have any comments regarding this publication, contact: 30% recycled paper Senior Administrative Services Toronto District School Board 155 College Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1P6 Telephone: Facsimile: Website: Communications Department Information and Privacy Commissioner 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8 Canada Telephone: Facsimile: TTY (Teletypewriter): Website:
21 FAQ #8 Revised November 2012 Confidential Reports I made a complaint to the superintendent and to the principal of my child s school about an incident that occurred involving another child, because I was not happy with how the teacher dealt with the incident. The principal has told me that he investigated my complaint and that he has spoken with the teacher about her handling of the situation. He has also told me that he made a written report to the superintendent about his investigation of my complaint. I would like to see the notes of his investigation and the report to the superintendent, but he refuses to give me a copy of this information. Even if the principal refuses to give you a copy of this information, you still have the right to make a request to the board under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (the Act). However, this information may be excluded from the scope of the Act because it may be considered employment related or labour relations related. Specifically, section 52(3) of the Act states that the Act does not apply to records collected, prepared, maintained or used by or on behalf of a board in relation to: Meetings, consultations, discussions or communications about labour relations or employment-related matters in which the institution has an interest. Since your complaint was about a teacher s conduct, the board may claim that the report is about an employment-related matter in which the school board has an interest and therefore the report is excluded from the Act. You can appeal such a decision by the board to the Information and Privacy Commissioner. Even if section 52(3) does not apply and the information does fall under the Act, any references to the conduct of the other child or the conduct of the teacher may be considered their personal information. In many situations, the Act prohibits the disclosure of personal information to any person other than the individual to whom the information relates. Even though your child s personal information may be contained in the notes or the report, the board may still deny you access to this information if its disclosure would result in an invasion of privacy of another person, such as the teacher or the other child. is published by the Toronto District School Board and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. If you have any comments regarding this publication, contact: 30% recycled paper Senior Administrative Services Toronto District School Board 155 College Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1P6 Telephone: Facsimile: Website: Communications Department Information and Privacy Commissioner 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8 Canada Telephone: Facsimile: TTY (Teletypewriter): Website:
22 FAQ #9 Revised November 2012 Information requested from a School or a School Board by the CAS I discovered that the principal at my children s school gave the Children s Aid Society information about my son and daughter (e.g., their behaviour, their progress, etc.). Can the principal do this without my permission? The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) establishes certain boundaries for principals and other school officials in relation to the disclosure of information about your children without your permission. In general, a school or school board cannot give personal information relating to your children to anyone, unless the conditions of MFIPPA are met. An important part of MFIPPA is section 32(e), which states that the school shall not disclose personal information except: for the purpose of complying with an Act of the Legislature or an Act of Parliament, an agreement or arrangement under such an Act or a treaty. This section allows the principal to disclose information about your children without your permission if there is a provincial or federal Act that would require him or her to do so. The Children s Aid Society is an agency operating under the authority of the Child and Family Services Act (CFSA) and its regulations. This legislation gives these types of agencies very broad duties, powers, and responsibilities relating to the protection of children. One such requirement of the CFSA is section 72, which states that if persons who perform professional or official duties with respect to children, such as teachers and school principals, have reasonable grounds to suspect that a child has suffered or will suffer various harms, among other things, at the hands of a person, they must report their suspicion and the information on which it is based to a Children s Aid Society. In addition, according to the CFSA, the Children s Aid Society has the right to request personal information from schools and school boards in order for a review team to investigate allegations or complaints of child abuse under section 73(4) of the CFSA. In this situation, the principal is permitted to disclose your children s personal information without your permission. However, in such a situation, the principal would only have been justified in disclosing information about your children if a Children s Aid Society review team, or any of its members, reasonably required the information for the section 73(4) review. is published by the Toronto District School Board and the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. If you have any comments regarding this publication, contact: 30% recycled paper Senior Administrative Services Toronto District School Board 155 College Street Toronto, Ontario M5T 1P6 Telephone: Facsimile: Website: Communications Department Information and Privacy Commissioner 2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400 Toronto, Ontario M4W 1A8 Canada Telephone: Facsimile: TTY (Teletypewriter): Website: