Information and Privacy Commissioner Bob Clark Concludes Investigation on Complaint Against Edmonton Public Schools

July 6, 2001

The Complainant had applied to Edmonton Public Schools for access to information. Subsequently, the Complainant filed a complaint with the Commissioner citing three issues.

The Complainant said Edmonton Public Schools failed to provide notification that the Complainant may request a review from the Commissioner. Edmonton Public Schools claimed it verbally notified the Complainant of the right to request a review. The investigation found that the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act does not require that the notification be in writing.

However, to minimize situations as to what was or was not communicated, the investigation recommended that Edmonton Public Schools include the notification in its letters to applicants. The recommendation was accepted.

The Complainant described the destruction of a letter that was responsive to the Complainant’s access request as “very suspicious”. Edmonton Public Schools said the original letter was destroyed in 1999, but that a copy of the letter was retained. The investigation found that the letter that now exists is not a true copy of the original. Although the contents of the original letter are still intact and can be discerned, it is a “new” record because it has been altered. The investigation determined that the destruction of the original letter was not for the purpose of evading the Complainant’s access request. Had that been so, no copies of the letter would have been retained at all.

The Complainant had an issue with Edmonton Public Schools’ retention of information that was contained in a computer disk. The investigation found that the information was responsive to the Complainant’s access request. As the Commissioner may review Edmonton Public Schools’ processing of the Complainant’s access application at a later date, the investigation concluded that retention of the information is justified.