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Advocate’s Report on Independent Schools

December 21, 2023 - Ron Kruzeniski, Information and Privacy Commissioner

The Saskatchewan Advocate for Children and Youth issued her investigation report regarding independent schools in December 2023. She made 36 recommendations, a number of which relate to the access and privacy world. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) and The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LA FOIP) deal with the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information, and the protection of that information by government institutions or local authorities. With that in mind, I note the following recommendations in the Advocate’s report:

External Accountability and Participation Rights of Young People

Recommendation 4: The Government of Saskatchewan amend The Registered Independent Schools Regulations to recognize the right and entitlement of all pupils of sufficient maturity to immediate access to all procedures established by the board of a registered independent school for the purposes of investigation and mediation of any differences or conflicts with the independent school.

Recommendation 5: The Government of Saskatchewan amend section 35 of The Registered Independent Schools Regulations to recognize the right and entitlement of all pupils of sufficient maturity attending, or having previously attended, registered independent schools to independently access their own records.

Recommendation 6: The Government of Saskatchewan amend section 35 of The Registered Independent Schools Regulations to protect the right of all pupils under 18 years of age from disclosures of information that would constitute an unreasonable invasion of the pupil’s privacy.

Recommendation 7: The Ministry of Education amend the Registered Independent Schools Policy and Procedures Manual to reflect changes made to The Registered Independent Schools Regulations related to access to records and protection of privacy, as recommended in this report.

Recommendation 8: The Government of Saskatchewan amend section 148 of The Education Act, 1995 to recognize the right and entitlement of all pupils of sufficient maturity to immediate access to procedures established by the board of education or the Conseil scolaire fransaskois for the purposes of investigation and mediation of any differences or conflicts with the school.

Data on Learning Output

Recommendation 25: The Ministry of Education review its processes of collection, entry, storage and tracking of data from registered independent schools on learning outputs, make improvements to ensure the accuracy of data in Ministry records and develop policy and procedures on these processes.

It is clear independent schools serve the needs of parents and their children. The more transparent an independent school is, the more parents and students will know what is happening in their school. At the same time, the better protected student information is, the more comfortable parents and students will be regarding their personal information. Finally, the easier it is for parents or students to access their information, the more comfortable they will be that the independent school is collecting the proper information and making sure that information is accurate.

Regular school boards in Saskatchewan have these obligations as they are subject to the rules of collection, use, disclosure and protection outlined in LA FOIP.

I have written the Minister of Education requesting that his government make independent schools local authorities under LA FOIP. I am hopeful that the Minister would give serious consideration to doing so.

 

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