- Download the guide
- 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
Disclosure to police
Generally, school boards should disclose personal information to a law enforcement agency only when required by law, such as in response to a court order, rather than a simple request.
However, they have discretion to disclose personal information to law enforcement agencies:
- to aid a law enforcement investigation
- for health or safety reasons
MFIPPA does not permit ongoing or informal arrangements for the automatic disclosure of personal information to law enforcement agencies.107 In all cases, school boards should make their own assessment of the circumstances before deciding whether to disclose personal information to a law enforcement agency. If uncertain, the board should seek legal advice.
When legally required
In some situations, a school board may be required by law to disclose personal information to a law enforcement agency, such as on receipt of a court order (e.g., a search warrant or production order).108 The institution must comply with the court order unless it successfully challenges it in court.
To aid a law enforcement investigation
A school board has the discretion to disclose personal information to a law enforcement agency in Canada, without a court order, to aid a law enforcement investigation.109
After receiving a request from law enforcement, the board must ensure that the request is for specific information made in the context of a specific law enforcement investigation. The institution should not disclose without a court order if this condition is not met.
A school board may also choose to disclose personal information to a law enforcement agency on its own initiative to aid an investigation, where the board has a reasonable basis to believe an offence has occurred. It should disclose only the information that appears to be relevant and necessary for a potential investigation. For example, if an assault is captured on a school’s video surveillance system, the board may disclose the video capturing the event.
For health or safety reasons
A school board may also disclose personal information to law enforcement in “compelling circumstances affecting the health or safety of an individual” (see What information may be disclosed in an emergency), either on its own initiative, or in response to a request from a law enforcement agency.110 For example, if a student is lost or missing from a school trip, a board may exercise its discretion to disclose personal information to the police after considering the relevant factors, including any compelling concerns about the student’s health or safety.
Managing law enforcement requests
School boards should:
- develop and publish clear policies addressing how decisions about disclosure to law enforcement agencies are made and documented
- such policies and procedures could be developed in conjunction with local police/school board protocols
- the Ministry of Education requires each school board to have such a protocol in place, and requires that it address information sharing and disclosure
- document all disclosure requests by requiring law enforcement agencies to complete a request form before information is released
- make reasonable efforts to notify individuals in writing that their information was disclosed due to circumstances affecting their health or safety
- In all other cases, such as where disclosure is made in response to a court order, the board should consider notifying the individual of the disclosure after consulting with the law enforcement agency to determine whether the notice would interfere with an investigation or otherwise cause significant harm
- annually publish statistics about disclosure to law enforcement