Ontario schools collect, use and disclose a large amount of personal information about students. Understanding how to provide appropriate access to this information and protect personal privacy is not always straightforward, especially in a complex legal environment and era of technological change.

This guide provides answers to common questions about privacy and access to information in the school system. The goal is to provide Ontario’s school board officials and education professionals with an understanding of their rights and obligations in relation to the privacy of, and access to, students’ personal information.

Role of the IPC

The Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC) is appointed by and reports to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and is independent of the government of the day. The IPC upholds and promotes open government and the protection of personal privacy.

The mandate of the IPC is set out in Ontario’s privacy and access to information laws. The IPC oversees these acts and serves both the government and public through:

  • resolving appeals when there is a refusal to grant access to information
  • investigating privacy complaints related to personal information
  • ensuring compliance with the laws
  • reviewing privacy policies and information practices
  • conducting research on access and privacy issues and commenting on proposed government legislation and programs
  • educating the public, media and other stakeholders about Ontario’s access to information and privacy laws and issues affecting access and privacy