Disclosure to Community Agencies

Many boards have working arrangements with outside community agencies in order to provide services to students.

Sharing of personal information by a board within such arrangements is subject to LAFOIP. This means that personal information of students cannot be disclosed to these other agencies unless there is a section of LAFOIP that allows the board to do so.

Partner agencies may have to meet the requirements of other pieces of legislation, such as FOIP, HIPA and PIPEDA. Although there are similar provisions in each statute the exact nature of the disclosure exemptions will vary. It is therefore highly recommended to spell out in a written agreement or protocol how information will be handled. The agreement should make clear the reasons why the information is being shared. This will help each agency identify the sections of their legislation that they can rely upon to share the information.

The agreement should also spell out how the information will be handled by each agency once it is received as well as the retention period and disposal requirements.

Section 28 and the following subsections of LAFOIP will allow the disclosure of information by boards of education will include:

  • section 28(1) – consent in writing of the individual which can be given in many cases by the parent or in cases of mature students the consent of the student can also be sufficient authority to allow the disclosure of the student’s personal information to outside agencies;
  • section 28(2)(a) – if the information is going to be used to the purpose for which the information was obtained or a use consistent with those purposes which will usually apply to disclosure for education purposes;
  • section 28(2)(g) – to a law enforcement agency for the purpose of enforcing a law or carrying out a lawful investigation which will apply to very restricted circumstances and should not be relied upon when there is a disclosure of information for purposes other than a formal investigation;
  • section 28(2)(h) – pursuant to an agreement with a government agency or institution or another local authority for the purpose of administering any law or carrying out a lawful investigation which will require a written agreement and can cover a variety of purposes as long as such purposes fit within the legislative mandate of the party giving the information or the party receiving the information, and will not apply to non-government agencies;
  • Section 28(2)(l) – where necessary to protect the mental or physical health or safety of any individual which will have application to the disclosure of information in emergency circumstances, in non-emergency cases where the behaviour of the student is likely to cause harm to himself or herself or to others, and in circumstances where the disclosure of information is required in order to obtain treatment for the student;
  • Section 28(2)(n) – provides that personal information can be disclosed, without consent, “for any purpose where, in the opinion of the head: i) the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs any invasion of privacy that could result from the disclosure; or ii) disclosure would clearly benefit the individual to whom the information relates”; and
  • Section 28(2)(s) – allows the Minister to prescribe exemptions to disclosure.

Section 10 of LAFOIP Regulations sets out some exemptions that may allow boards to disclose information to other agencies:

  • Section 10(a)(i) –  to determine the eligibility of an individual to participate in a program or receive services; and
  • Section 10(c) – where disclosure may reasonably be expected to assist in the provision of services for the benefit of the individual to whom the information relates.

Only the information required to meet the specific purposes set out in the exemption can be disclosed.