Access to records created or collected by the board during a school review process, school closure, grade discontinuance or during a proposal for a school of opportunity is governed by the provisions of LAFOIP.
Prior to Motion to Consider
School Closure Policy
Boards have a positive duty to publish policies relating to school review on their website as well as any amendments to such policies, according to section 95.82 of The Education Regulations, 1986.
Reports and Studies
Any reports, studies and other information prepared or collected by administrators prior to the motion to consider school closure or grade discontinuance will fall into the category of advice from officials and as such do not have to be disclosed prior to the motion.
Reports and studies concerning schools where a decision was made not to proceed do not have to be disclosed. However, in most cases, the board will probably choose to release the information in order to provide the decision-making process in which the board engaged.
Reports and studies concerning school review motions must be disclosed once the motion is made because those documents contain information that the board plans to consider in reviewing the school.
Before the documents are released, care should be taken to ensure that any personal or confidential information of students, staff or third parties is severed from the materials. Severing can be accomplished in most case by simply blacking out the information that cannot be shared.
After Motion to Consider
Information to Be Shared with Public
The following types of information must be shared with the public after the board passes a motion to consider possible school closure or grade discontinuance:
- list of all potential receiving schools; and
- options for transport which may involve the possibility of amending contracts or entering into new agreements – those aspects should not be addressed at this point in time in the information circulated as they involve potential negotiations (existing transportation contracts are accessible by the public).
The regulations set out the minimal information that is to be provided but the board may wish to provide additional information.
In addition, the board must make available to the public any of the information shared with the school review Committee.
Information to Be Shared with School Review Committee
Information shared with the school review committee must also be shared with the public, and with any representatives of the community who are preparing a proposal to the Minister of Education for a school of opportunity.
The required information must be provided to the school review committee by November 1.
Boards are required to share the following types of information with the school review committee:
1. Statistical information
The board must provide to the school review committee:
- enrolment history since January 1, 2006;
- projected enrolment for the next 5 years and the source of the data;
- current number of teaching and non-teaching staff; and
- projected number of teaching staff.
This statistical information should be in the form of de-personalised data – individual students or teachers should not be identifiable.
Although the public has the right to access a great deal of information about individual employee contracts, including salary, in many cases the requests can be met by providing general data. For example a request for a list of employees and their salaries is often dealt with by providing a breakdown of the number of individuals at different pay levels without revealing individual information.
2. Information respecting the physical condition of the school
Care should be taken to avoid revealing any information concerning security aspects of the building.
3. Any other information that the board plans to consider in reviewing the school
Every document and record considered by the board in making the decision on school closure or grade discontinuance will need to be revealed to the school review committee. There is no requirement for the school review committee to keep the information confidential so sharing with the committee is probably best thought of in the same way as if the board were sharing with the public.
Board members and administrators should make an effort when receiving materials to ensure that the party providing the material is aware of the requirement for the board to share the material. In some cases, it may be possible to accept confidential material on the understanding that it will only be shared when all personal identifying information has been severed.
Information concerning employees should be shared in such a manner so as not to reveal personal information about specific employees. Severing information in some documents might be necessary.
Contracts with third parties for supplies or services are generally accessible to the public but may contain personal or financial information that should be severed before the document is shared.
School of Opportunity Proposal
The following types of information must be provided by the board of education to the group preparing a proposal for a school of opportunity.
1. Peer group size for the school by grade and gender
Considering the often small sizes of schools involved in the school closure process this data could be combined with other data such as student assessment data to identify individual personal information. Care should be taken to ensure that other data being released would not allow this to happen.
2. Average classroom size
There are not likely to be any problems with sharing this type of statistical data with the public.
3. Cultural and recreational activities at the school
This would include those activities under the care and control of the board as well as minimal information about other groups who use the school.
If sharing more detailed information about community or other groups that might use school premises, the board should ensure that the group has given permission for the information to be shared.
4. Course offering by grade
This would be considered public information and there would be no issues with sharing the information.
The regulations do not require a copy of the proposal to be provided to the board but it would, if necessary, be able to access the proposal put forward by the community members under an access to information request to the municipalities or to the Minister of Education.