As a parent you have the right to information stored by the school district connected to your child and also yourself. If they are refusing to give you copies of reports or information you can always submit a Freedom of Information Request. If you are in the process of filing a human rights complaint, I highly recommend you start this process early as districts all over the province are known to extend the requests for as long as they can.
Points of Information
- The school district will have 30 business days to give you the documents you request.
- They can extend once, on their own. After that, they have to go to OIPC. They need OIPC’s permission. You should be receiving a copy of the OIPC extension letter when it’s extended a second time.
- If you are requesting any information, and the school says to you it has gone “missing”. This is more common than one might think and I have heard stories of this all over the province. You can submit an FOI, and start the paper trail. You will need to start this formal process, so you can bring in the OIPC. They are the ones that can produce orders for the school district to give you documents. So, even if it’s for one report. It’s not too small of an issue, to start the process.
- It’s important to know about FIPPPA. Privacy laws are a big deal, and you and your children have rights about who gets access to your information. Third party access, when you should be notified if someone is accessing your information, etc. The OIPC, which I go into more details below, has a general email address and phone number for you to contact if you have any questions.
- Some general information related to public information, you don’t need to submit an FOI, sometimes you will. It all depends, and your point of contact to inquire about would be first with the Secretary-Treasurer. All school districts will have someone responsible for processing all of the FOI requests.
- For your FOI request, you want to be a specific as possible, what exactly are you looking for, but also cover your bases for things you may not know about. So if there is something that you are absolutely looking for, name it.
- Remember that a lot of the decisions made in districts that are made in teams, so there was probably a discussion between people about a specific issue that you are dealing with. When you list the names of people you are requesting to be included, think of who they would be needing to include in their decisions.
- You’ll want to send this to the Secretary-Treasurer or the person who has been designated on your district’s website.
FIPPA CHANGES COMING FEB 1st, 2023
There are big FIPPA changes coming to BC on Feb 1st, 2023. These affect all government organizations and affects our children’s privacy and how it is managed.
One thing that really sticks out to me, is how privacy breeches will be managed and there is the expectation of a privacy management program. To find out more information click on the link in the above paragraph.
SAMPLE email request for a Freedom of Information Request:
I submit the following FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST in respect of the personal information relating to my child XXXXXXXX, DOB (Date of Birth)
I am requesting all records of all interactions, assessments/testing, any forms, meetings and communications, including but not limited to all handwritten and electronic notes, counselling notes, minutes, memos, agendas and ALL emails from the dates XXXXXXX to XXXXXX between the following individuals connected to my child:
(List the names, and list as many as you like, it’s better to do more than less)
Please submit the following information to me within 30 business days.
*** YOU can also submit a Freedom of Information for yourself, and I highly suggest going that route too. If you are requesting one for your child, add yourself as well.
Submitting with the BC Government – Education
You can also submit a general FOI with the Ministry of Education for yourself or your children.
For general information, I would call the Ministry of Education and ask them for the specific information you are looking for first, and they may just give it to you, without the hassle of a formal FOI request. That has worked for me, or sometimes I can just ask and speak to someone. If I want a copy, I’ll submit an FOI anyways, but it’s always nice to get the information sooner than later.
There are fees now for submitting an FOI with a government organization. For information on this process click HERE
Submitting with the Teacher’s Regulation Branch
You can also submit an FOI request through the Teacher’s Regulation Branch. I suggest going through the TRB directly because the Ministry explained to me that the TRB is independent of the Ministry of Education. I don’t know, if by submitting the general online form, if that would include the TRB. So, I suggest you go directly through them.
Here is an example of what I have sent in:
I submit the following FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST in respect of the personal information relating to my (relation) XXXXXXX, DOB and myself XXXXXX, DOB.
I am requesting all records of all written, handwritten, personal written response to my complaint, emails, or recorded communications submitted to the Teacher’s Regulation Branch in relation to or on behalf of XXXXX herself, her lawyer, Board of Education or the school district in regards to the complaint file LXXXXXXX-XX.
Please email me if you have any questions
What is the OIPC and Why do we need them??
The OIPC is the Office of Information and Privacy Commissioner. Depending on what the district gives you for your FOI request, you may need to follow-up by submitting a request to have your filed reviewed by the OIPC.
There are many reasons that you can have your filed reviewed.
For example: If you feel that you are missing documents, or question the redactions. They will review all of that.
The OIPC is very useful. If the district is late, submit the complaint the next day. The OIPC is very backed up, so you’ll want to get it in as soon as you can. If they give you your documents late, you can always cancel, and you’ll still have a file number attached to it.
OIPC decision letters are also given to the Board of Education, so they will be aware.
For details on how to file and what reasons you can file for, visit the website below.
IMPORTANT OIPC CASES
There is great information in these cases on how FOIPPA is applied to accessing educational information. Great advocacy by these parents!!!