Commissioner Concludes Investigation on Privacy Complaint Against a School District

July 9, 2004

Frank Work, Information and Privacy Commissioner, received a complaint that the Conseil scolaire catholique et francophone du Sud de l’Alberta (“the School District”) disclosed personal information in contravention of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (“the FOIP Act”).

The Complainant said written warnings were sent to a number of parents regarding an infraction complaint. The written warnings contained information about the Complainant’s child and other students. The investigation found the disclosure to the parents was allowed under section 40(1)(c) of the FOIP Act (public body may disclose personal information for the purpose for which the information was collected). The information was collected as part of the School District’s complaint process and disclosed to the parents as part of the complaint process.

However, the investigation found the disclosure did not meet the requirement of section 40(4) of the FOIP Act (disclose only what is necessary and reasonable).

While it was necessary and reasonable for each parent to know the information about their child, the disclosure of information about the other students was not necessary.  The School District has taken steps to prevent a similar recurrence of this nature.

The Complainant was contacted by a representative of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (the “ATA”) in relation to an investigation regarding the professional conduct of a teacher. The Complainant believed the School District disclosed information about the Complainant and the Complainant’s family to the ATA.

Other than the Complainant’s name, the investigation found no evidence that the School District disclosed personal information to the ATA. The investigation found the disclosure of the Complainant’s name to the ATA was allowed under section 40(1)(f) of the FOIP Act (public body may disclose personal information for any purpose in accordance with an enactment that authorizes or requires the disclosure). The Teaching Profession Act authorizes the ATA to receive and investigate complaints of alleged unprofessional conduct.