On August 5th, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario held than an applicant implicitly consented to the use and disclosure of information in his Ontario Student Record by putting the information into issue in his application.
Section 266 of the Ontario Education Act deems the OSR to be privileged subject to student or guardian consent. The applicant (through his next friend) referred to information in his OSR in his application and expressed an intention to use information in his OSR in pursuing his application. The applicant was not, however, forthcoming with consent to allow the responding school board to use the OSR in it’s defence.
The Tribunal did not entertain the board’s argument for a finding that the section 266 privilege is waived in whole upon the filing of an application by a student in respect of educational services. It did articulate a principle that supports implicit consent to use and disclose relevant information in an OSR in support of a defence:
Based on the particulars in the Application, as well as the applicant’s own expressed intention to rely on parts of the OSR, the applicant has implicitly consented to at least some use and disclosure of the OSR by the respondent in order to defend itself. However, in subsequent correspondence and submissions the applicant’s next friend explicitly seeks to place a number of conditions on her consent. I am not satisfied that the restrictions she seeks to place are necessary to protect the privacy of the OSR documents and information. The respondent is not receiving documents, through a disclosure process, in which it otherwise has no interest or responsibilities. It is still subject to its obligations under the Education Act. To the extent that it may use or disclose documents or information from the OSR for the purposes of the proceeding before the Tribunal, it is also subject to the Tribunal’s Rules on the confidentiality of documents. The applicant cannot rely on documents and information from the OSR in the Application, while seeking to prevent the respondent from using the same in order to present its case. I find it necessary, for a fair and just proceeding, for the respondent to be able to use and disclose documents and information from the OSR, subject to the time limitation addressed below.
Where an application is filed which claims discrimination in educational services and it is apparent that a respondent school board must use and disclose information from an OSR in order to defend itself, including to file a full response, the Tribunal will consider, on request from such a respondent, whether the application should proceed unless an applicant provides explicit consent to use and disclose information that information.
The Tribunal ordered the applicant to provide explicit consent for the use and disclosure of information falling within a relevant time period, failing which it would consider dismissing the action as an abuse of process.