Case Report – IPC says personal information in OSR shall not be released

24 May

On April 11th the IPC/Ontario denied a parent’s appeal for access to information about an incident that led to the suspension of two students, and in doing so made a significant statement on a student’s privacy interest in information contained in the Ontario Student Record.  

The records at issue were about two students other than the parent’s child, so the Board claimed they were exempt based on the exemption in section 14 – i.e., it claimed that disclosure would constitute an “unjustified invasion of privacy.” It also argued that disclosure should be presumed to constitute an unjustified invasion of privacy based on section 14(3)(d) of MFIPPA (the “educational history” presumption) because the records had been included in the OSR pursuant to the Ministry’s Violence-Free School Policy.  The IPC acknowledged that the OSR is “the core of a student’s educational history” and held that the presumption applied.

It also rejected the requester’s claim that the “public interest override” applied.  Although it recognized that a parent’s interest in ensuring a safe environment for his or her own children and other children was a “compelling public interest,” it did not find that this interest outweighed the special privacy interest of youth at risk:  

I note that Canadian legislation aims to protect young people from negative publicity about activities that may not reflect well on them.  This policy initiative clearly underlies significant provisions about non-publication of information found in the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Order MO-2291 (11 April 2008, I.P.C./Ont.).

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