Does a school board need to give notice that it is collecting personal information?

Yes. With very limited exceptions, a school board must provide a notice of collection and inform the individual of:

  • the legal authority for the collection (for example, a particular section of the Education Act)
  • the purpose(s) for which the personal information is intended to be used and
  • contact information for a school board officer or employee who can answer questions about the collection16

School boards can provide a notice of collection by printing it on the form that is used to collect the information, including it in student handbooks, or posting it on the school board’s public website.

In IPC privacy report MC06-63, the IPC found that a school board did not provide adequate notice regarding the collection of personal information through a “student census.” The board provided parents and students with information about the census and its purposes, and invited them to contact the child’s school with any questions. However, the board did not provide contact information for a specific officer or employee who could answer questions about the census, and did not describe the legal authority for the collection.

There are a few limited situations where a school board is not required to provide a notice of collection;17 for example, if the information will determine eligibility for an award or honour. In this case, the school board must make a statement available to the public, on its website or elsewhere, describing the purpose of the collection and why notice has not been given.

In general, school boards should make their information practices as transparent as possible. If a board posts a collection notice on its website, for example, it should consider linking it to a general description of the board’s information practices and any associated policies and procedures.

 


16 MFIPPA, s. 29(2)
17 MFIPPA, s. 29(3), Regulation 823 under MFIPPA, s. 4