Access by Parents of Students Over or Under 18 Years

Student or Former Student Who is 18 Years or Older

It is the student who has the sole right to access. The parent of a student who is 18 or older would require the consent of the student to have access to the personal information of the student. This consent must be given in writing.

If the student is not mentally able to understand the nature and extent of an application for information then the parent or guardian will have the ability to make the application, according to section 49(b) of LAFOIP.

Student Under 18 Years

Section 49(d) of LAFOIP states:

“where the individual is less than 18 years of age, by the individual’s legal custodian in situations where, in the opinion of the head, the exercise of the right or power would not constitute an unreasonable invasion of the privacy of the individual…”

Unless there is a court order or separation agreement in effect the parent will be considered the legal custodian of the child.

Sharing personal information of the student with a parent will not generally be considered an unreasonable invasion of privacy in cases where parents are involved in the education of the students and require the information to assist the students in obtaining educational services.

There may, however, be some cases where the privacy interests of the students will outweigh the interests of the parents in having access to the information. This may include situations such as:

  • parents not involved in the education of the student such as mature students living independently;
  • a parent who has been known to use information improperly in the past; or
  • when release of information could jeopardize the provision of services to the student (i.e. a request for counselling notes).

In some cases a student may express a request that some personal information not be shared with a parent or parents. This request must be carefully considered and can be honoured if the student:

  • is of sufficient maturity (generally this kind of maturity starts to develop at ages 12 or 13 – by age 14 or 15 most children will be considered able to give consent in a variety of situations and by 16 or 17 the child is almost always considered capable of making such decisions);
  • understands the nature of the subject matter being dealt with; and/or
  • understands the implications of not sharing the information with his or her parents.

Even if the child is considered mature enough to refuse consent to the release of his or her personal information the school may still rely upon other sections of LAFOIP. Other factors such as the seriousness of the situation, other help available to the student, the school’s knowledge of the student’s background and history will also play a part in deciding whether or not to agree not to inform parents.