When is disclosure of a student’s personal information mandatory?

Some laws make it mandatory for school boards to disclose students’ personal information in certain situations. In these cases, MFIPPA would not stand in the way of the disclosure − it permits disclosure for the purpose of complying with another act.36

The following are examples of situations where it is mandatory to disclose students’ personal information, and where consent is not required:

  • Disclosure to medical officers of health: The Education Act requires principals to give the name, address and telephone number of any student (and their parent), and the student’s birth date, when it is requested by the local medical officer of health.37
  • Notifying parents of harm to students: The Education Act also requires school board employees to report to the principal if they become aware that a student may have engaged in an activity that could result in their suspension or expulsion.38 If the principal believes that a student has been harmed as a result of this activity, they have a duty to notify that student’s parent or guardian, and the parent or guardian of any other student who engaged in the activity. However, there are limits on the nature and extent of personal information that can be shared.39
  • Disclosure to eligibility review officers: These officers may investigate eligibility for payments under several acts, including the Ontario Disability Support Program Act, the Ontario Works Act and the Family Benefits Act. Eligibility review officers may make a written demand for the production of records. If the officer makes such a demand, the school board or principal must comply.40
  • Occupational health and safety: Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, school boards and other employers must advise a worker of any danger to their health or safety that they are aware of. This includes providing workers (for example, teachers or educational assistants) with personal information if it relates to a risk of workplace violence (for example, by a student or parent with a history of violent behaviour).41 There are limits:
    • Information should only be shared with workers who are expected to encounter the person in their work and where the risk of violence is likely to expose them to physical injury. This means, for example, that it would not be permissible to share personal information about the potentially violent person with all staff, but sharing with just those staff who have contact with the person would be allowed.
    • Employers are prohibited from disclosing more personal information than is reasonably necessary to protect the worker from physical injury.42

While consent would not be required for these disclosures, school boards should provide general information to the school community about the requirements for disclosure, for example, on a website, in a school newsletter, or in a student handbook.

 


36. MFIPPA, s. 32(e)
37 Education Act, s. 266(2.1)
38 Education Act, s. 300.2
39 Section 300.3(5) of the Education Act provides that when notifying the parent or guardian of the harmed student, the principal must not disclose the name or any other identifying or personal information about the student who engaged in the harmful activity, except in so far as is necessary to explain the nature of the activity that resulted in harm to the student, the nature of the harm, the steps taken to protect the student’s safety, and the supports that will be provided to the student in response to the harm. Section 300.3(7) provides similar limits on disclosing information about the student who was harmed.
40 O. Reg. 134/98 under the Ontario Works Act, s. 65(5)
41 Occupational Health and Safety Act, ss. 25(2)(a), 27(2)(a) and 32.0.5
42 Occupational Health and Safety Act, s. 32.0.5(4)