Confidential Information

Confidential information covers a wide variety of records that generally relate to financial or business information of the local authority or a third party.

Confidential information of third parties cannot be disclosed, unless the board of education (board) has the consent of the third party. This will include:

  • trade secrets of a third party;
  • financial, commercial scientific technical or labour relation information;
  • information that could result in financial loss or gain, or affect the competitive position or negotiation of a third party; and
  • statements of financial account to a third party regarding services provided by the board.

With regard to its own confidential information, the board has the discretion to refuse access to the records. The board must exercise such discretion in a reasonable and unbiased manner. Confidential records which the board can choose not to disclose include:

  • information protected from disclosure by another statute or regulation;
  • advice from board’s solicitor, correspondence with solicitors, and other legal documents subject to solicitor-client privilege;
  • 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.;
  • draft of a resolution or bylaw;
  • agendas or the substance of closed sessions;
  • advice, recommendations, analysis or policy options developed by or for the board
    • this would include 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;
  • plans relating to the management of personnel or administration not yet implemented including consultation or deliberations involving employees;
  • 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.

Information that could reasonably be expected to disclose:

  • financial or commercial, scientific or technical information in which the board has a proprietary interest;
  • information that could prejudice the economic interests of the board;
  • research that could deprive an employee of priority of publication; and
  • Information that could result in an undue benefit or loss to a person.

Confidential Documents Provided by Third Parties

Section 23(1)(h) of LAFOIP provides that views and opinions expressed about an individual are the personal information of the person about whom the opinions are expressed.

Thus, if a third party, such as a parent, writes to a board of education expressing views and opinions about an employee, the employee has access to that correspondence because it is the personal information of the employee.

However, section 30(2) of LAFOIP provides that if the material is sent in confidence and if it is compiled for the purpose of determining the employee’s eligibility for employment, including possible termination of employment, then it is possible that the head may refuse to disclose the opinion.

If the third party sends correspondence that is expressed to be confidential and expresses no opinions or views about an employee, but merely recites facts, then that correspondence remains personal information of the parent and cannot be disclosed to the employee without the permission of the parent.