Names of disciplined teachers should be withheld, privacy commissioner says

Names and other identifying information related to teacher disciplinary records don't have to be made public under freedom of information requests, the province's information and privacy commissioner says.

Records sought concerning 10 teachers

Names and other identifying information related to teacher disciplinary records don't have to be made public under freedom of information requests, the province's information and privacy commissioner says.

A recent ruling by the commissioner relates to a dispute between someone making a freedom of information request and the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education.

An FOI request was made to the ministry in 2013 asking for records going back to 2009 dealing with professional misconduct or incompetence of teachers, according to Saskatchewan Information and Privacy Commissioner Ronald Kruzeniski.

"The record in question for this review involves approximately 200 pages containing letters, reports, emails, notice of hearings, etc. pertaining to professional misconduct or incompetence involving 10 different teachers and their victims in Saskatchewan," according to Kruzeniski's ruling earlier this month.

Among the information requested was correspondence about teachers or incidents and the disciplinary measures that were eventually taken — including having teaching certificates suspended or revoked.  

But the ministry says it can't release some of the information due to privacy concerns.

That includes teacher names, home addresses, names of schools, names of school divisions, names of small communities and in some cases, the names of judges who heard the cases.

The applicant, whose name hasn't been released, appealed to the Privacy Commissioner's office.

After investigating, Kruzeniski agreed with the Ministry of Education that names combined with other identifying information can be withheld.

However, other records including judge's names do not constitute personal information and should be released, he said in his written report.

The provincial government has 30 days to respond to the information commissioner's recommendations.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan has started a process to revamp the way teachers are disciplined and regulated.

Currently, it's handled internally by the Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation, but the government wants to move to a more arms-length process.

It wants a new process to be in place by 2015.

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