A child’s right to privacy and belonging at school

A child’s right to privacy and belonging at school

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Julie Wong Barker started this petition to Faisal Hassan (MPP York South - Weston) and

Dear Honourable Mr. Faisal Hassan, MPP; Honourable Mr. Stephen Lecce, MPP, Minister of Education; and Honourable Lisa M. Thompson, MPP, Minister of Government and Consumer Affairs (and responsible minister for MFIPPA):

First, these are entirely personal views and not those of my employer.

I made this petition to make sure that Ontario children may choose both privacy and inclusion/belonging, without reprisals. This issue affects Ontario elementary/secondary school children and we need change now! Please sign and share with others!

I believe a child has a right to privacy — a quasi-constitutional right in Canada — and to belonging. When I say belonging, it means full participation in group activities such as group class photos which are shared records, demonstrating diversity and inclusion.

The binary choice of 1) broad media consent = inclusion in group class photo or 2) no broad media consent = exclusion from group class photo is deeply wrong-headed.

The undersigned signatories support the following statements:

  1. parents and their children should not be told 1) broad media consent = inclusion in group class photo or 2) no broad media consent = exclusion from group class photo;
  2. per the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act ("MFIPPA"), s. 28(2), the January 2019 IPC Guide for Schools entitled "A Guide to Privacy and Access to Information in Ontario Schools”, page 23 (the "IPC School Guide"), below is a quote about MFIPPA from an Ontario government website:

    ***

    An institution can only collect personal information under one of these conditions:

    -The collection ... is expressly authorized by a statute;
    -...for the purposes of law enforcement; or
    -The collection is necessary for the proper administration of a lawfully authorized activity.
    . . .

    “Necessary to administer a lawfully authorized activity” refers to instances where institutions need to collect personal information in order to deliver a service or program that is authorized by the government. ...

    A key word in this provision is “necessary.” Institutions should be able to show that each element of personal information that is collected for the administration of a program is necessary in order to properly and effectively administer the program. Personal information that is merely helpful to the institution would not qualify for this collection authorization.

    ***

  3. if a school board has a valid consent for the group class photo at the time that such photo was taken, such consent should and may be relied upon to distribute such photo per the normal course;
  4. per the IPC School Guide, schools must provide notice when photos are taken, and this includes group class photo retakes; and
  5. any schools/school boards shown not to be in compliance with MFIPPA and IPC guidance should be required to become compliant within a reasonable period of time including development of the "Administrative Safeguards" specified in the IPC School Guide at page 16, e.g., "privacy and security policies and procedures; privacy and security training . . ." (e.g., MFIPPA, s. 48(1)(c.1):  "No person shall ... (c.1) alter, conceal or destroy a record, or cause any other person to do so, with the intention of denying a right under this Act to access the record or the information contained in the record;").

For context, I am a GTA/Ontario mother of an elementary school boy. At my son's elementary school, the principal/school board’s conduct -- in my humble opinion -- has been disgraceful vis-a-vis my son’s privacy and his sense of belonging.  They have punished him for my objecting to the school's broad media consent (re:  use of personal information), had his face blurred out of his group class photo (taken Sept 2018), received a child psychologist opinion letter that exclusion would cause any child harm, didn’t give us notice of the group class photo retake (May 2019), excluded him from the May 2019 retake (made my son sit out and go to the principal’s office and told him he couldn’t be in it because of me), distributed the May 2019 retake (without my son in it) despite my reminding them of the psychologist opinion letter, refuse to give us or distribute the original group class photo (from Sept. 2018) with him in it because they say there is other children’s personal information in it, which is insincere because they gave us the May 2019 retake with the other children in it. The following year, the principal attempted such retaliatory exclusionary conduct again for the group class photo. Pandemic or not, in my humble opinion, I view the conduct as unacceptable, and it could happen again to another child, left unchecked.  

We thank you in advance for your kind attention and look forward to discussing and/or your response.

Sincerely,

Julie Wong Barker et al.

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