Records Released at the Board’s Discretion

There are some types of information for which exclusion from disclosure is granted under LAFOIP but which a board of education (board) might decide to release depending on the specific circumstances of the request. Before any decision is made to release this type of information legal counsel is recommended.

Advice from Officials

Advice, recommendations, analysis or policy options developed by or for the board do not have to be disclosed, which is provided in Section 16(1)(b) and (d) of LAFOIP:

  • background papers, summaries of studies, reports from experts and research unless it is of a scientific or technical nature;
  • this does not include most environmental testing so such test reports must be released if requested;
  • once a decision is made by the board some of the materials may become subject to disclosure;
  • decisions involving personnel; and
  • consultation or deliberations involving employees and plans relating to the management of personnel or administration not yet implemented do not have to be disclosed.

Confidential Information

Boards are not required to release confidential information including the following:

  • information obtained in confidence from governments or their agencies;
  • information that might interfere with an investigation;
  • information that might reveal security arrangements for vehicles, buildings, computer systems, etc.;
  • positions, plans, procedures, criteria, considerations or instruction for the purpose of contractual or other negotiations;
  • proposed plans, policies or projects if release could result in disclosure of a pending policy or budget decision; and
  • testing procedure or techniques if details could prejudice results.

Minutes of Closed Session of the Board

Access to the minutes taken during a closed session can be refused pursuant to section 15(1)(b) of LAFOIP. That section provides that access may be refused to a record that discloses the substance of deliberations of a meeting if an Act authorises holding the meeting in the absence of the public.

Section 80(2) of The Education Act, 1995 provides that the only type of non-public meeting authorized is a closed session meeting. Therefore, access to the agenda and to minutes taken during the closed session can be refused.

The Education Act, 1995 does not address “committee of the whole” meetings or “in camera” sessions. If these types of meetings are held by the board their minutes will be accessible to the public unless there is another specific exemption available under LAFOIP.

It may also be possible for a board to argue that a “closed session” or a “committee of the whole” operates in exactly the same manner as a closed session and thus be eligible for the exemption. This will only be possible if the same procedure is followed as for a closed session. The onus will be on the board to show this.