Disclosure of Archival Records

Privacy rights extend past the death of an individual. Section 29 of LAFOIP does not allow personal information to be disclosed without consent until after 25 years from the date of death of the individual.

Section 28(2)(b) allows disclosure of personal information if, in the opinion of the head, the public interest clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy that could result. If the requested information is very old, such as school registers, it is much more likely that the public interest might outweigh the privacy interests of the individuals concerned. The type of information requested, the uses to which it will be put and who is requesting it will all be factors to be considered.

Relying on exceptions to the privacy protections will be a matter of judgement – a common sense balancing of interests. The onus would be on the board to make the case for disclosure in the event of a complaint to the Office of the Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner.

Section28(2)(k) of LAFOIP provides an exception allowing the release of information for research purposes but this is a fairly restricted option.

Copies of Old Yearbooks and Newsletters

General information that would have been public at the time it was created such as yearbooks, newsletters or copies of programs can be released because these types of records would not have been considered personal information.

Old Class Lists

Boards of education (board) frequently receive requests for class lists of former students. If the information is required for family genealogy, reunions or historical research it is possible to make an argument that, pursuant to section 28(2)(n) of LAFOIP, the public interest outweighs any invasion of privacy or where disclosure would clearly benefit the individuals to whom the information relates.

If a board considers the disclosure of information in above cases, at minimum it should be assured of the following:

  • that the person requesting the information is legitimately involved with the event or purpose for which the information is requested;
  • that the applicant is a reliable, trustworthy individual and will treat the information appropriately and only for the purpose requested and will not share it with others;
  • that only a minimal amount of information is shared (i.e. the name of the persons who attended the school but not ages or addresses) which usually involves blocking out all information except names;
  • that the applicant has no other way of getting the information, such as old yearbooks, talking to residents, town records, etc.; and
  • that finding and preparing the information would not require an inordinate amount of school resources.