One in a series of Need to Know articles from the BCPVPA’s Contract and Legal Team
On Culling Legal Files
When it comes time to move schools or retire many principals and vice-principals are faced with the task of culling files that they have accumulated over the years. These files may include their own notes on a variety of situations including students, teachers, support staff, district memos, staff meetings etc. All files relating to formal reports (students, teachers, support staff, maintenance, equipment inventories, etc.) must be left at the school or district. The School Act and Freedom of Information Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPOP), as well as School Districts policies guide and direct the expected treatment of such file.
The School Act Section 79 (1) requires the School District to:
establish written procedures regarding the storage, retrieval, and appropriate use of student records, and
ensure both confidentiality of the information contained in the student records and privacy for students and their families.
All student records remain the property of the School District. As per Section 31 of the FOIPOP, if a public body uses an individual’s personal information to make a decision that directly affects that individual, it must retain that information for at least one year after using it so that the individual has a reasonable opportunity to obtain access to it. Districts usually keep this information in a permanent file. Records relating to the student’s annual activities and work, including interim marks and other related information (such as the learner portfolio and samples of work) are retained in the classroom for the school year.
Freedom of Information Protection of Privacy Act
31. If an individual’s personal information
is in the custody or under the control of a public body, and
is used by or on behalf of the public body, to make a decision that directly affects the individual, the public body must ensure that the personal information is retained for at least one year after being used so that the affected individual has a reasonable opportunity to obtain access to that personal information.
It is recommended that when you leave your school that all your files are culled and the pertinent information collected on students should be stored in the Office General Student File (G4). All other information that is deemed to be unimportant should be shredded as per District policy.
For teacher files that are stored in your office, remove any information that is not deemed as necessary and leave the files for the next principal. District policies usually state that Personnel Files need to be kept for a period of seven years after the employment ceases.
For any investigations conducted and/or disciplinary measures that you have undertaken you should maintain this information in the Teacher’s Personnel File. For any such information that you have retained in student related issues that should be stored in the Students General File or their Confidential Student File.
It is usually recommended that you do not take any of your personal files containing private data and information about students, families, teachers, or support staff with you when you retire. However; there may be situations that you wish to keep your “black book” of personal notes on challenging situations that you have dealt with in a secure location at home. If in doubt, contact the BCPVPA or your District.