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- Ontario’s access and privacy legislation
Collecting personal information
- Are school boards limited in the amount or kind of personal information they may collect?
- Does a school board need consent to collect personal information about a student?
- When can a school board collect personal information indirectly?
- Does a school board need to give notice that it is collecting personal information?
- What are the rules for collecting, using, disclosing and requiring the production of Ontario Education Numbers?
- Using and disclosing personal information
- Consent to collect, use and disclose personal information
- Safeguarding and retaining information
Access to information
- How do students and parents access personal information?
- Do individuals have a right to access general records from a school board?
- Do students need to reach a certain age before they can exercise their access rights?
- How does a child’s age affect the parent’s right of access to personal information?
- Do non-custodial parents have a right to access a child’s school records?
- Correction of personal information
- Special topics
How do students and parents access personal information?
If a student, or their parent or guardian, wants to access the student’s personal information, they might choose to ask for the information informally, by asking the child’s teacher for a particular record, for example. If an informal request does not work, or the records are numerous and lengthy, they may choose to make a formal access request. The request can be made under the Education Act or MFIPPA, or both.
Requesting access under the Education Act
Most students and parents request information directly from the school, either through an informal request or under the Education Act:
- The parent, guardian, or student, can make a request to the principal of the school to examine the student’s OSR. For example, they could request an appointment to view the OSR at the school office.
- The request may be made either in writing or verbally.
- There is no cost associated with examining the OSR.
- The Education Act does not establish timelines or an appeal process for access requests.
Requesting access under MFIPPA
Students and parents may also make a formal request to the school board under MFIPPA by:
- sending the request in writing to the attention of the school board’s freedom of information coordinator. Under MFIPPA, access requests must be made to the school board, not to the school.
- clearly identifying the records that are being requested, and specifying that the request is being made under MFIPPA.64 The IPC offers an optional form that can used for this purpose.
- paying a $5 fee.65
The school board must issue a decision letter within 30 days. The decision will either grant access to the records, extend the response time by a specified length of time, or deny access to all or part of the records. If a reply is not sent within 30 days, the requester may appeal to the IPC.
The school board may decide that additional fees are required for supplementary documents such as photocopies and printouts. The amount to be charged for each component of the fee is set out in a regulation under MFIPPA.66 For fees over $25, the school board must issue a fee estimate to the requester.67
If access is refused, the school board must provide specific details related to the refusal and information on how to seek a review of the decision by the IPC.68
Under both MFIPPA and the Education Act, students and their parents also have a right to request a correction of the student’s record if they believe it is inaccurate (see Correction of Personal Information).