Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP)
The FOIP Act is a provincial law that applies to all public bodies in Alberta. This law is designed to strike a balance between an individual’s right to privacy and the public’s right to know. The FOIP Act applies to the operations of the Division and to the records under the custody or control of Foothills School Division.
The FOIP Act ensures that Foothills School Division:
- Provides a general right of access to the information held by the Division.
- Protects the privacy of individuals’ personal information.
To ensure compliance, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta has the authority to provide independent review and resolution of all actions Foothills School Division takes under the FOIP Act.
Five Basic Principles of the FOIP Act:
As it relates to Foothills School Division, the purposes of the FOIP Act are to:
- Allow any person the right of access to the records in the custody or under the control of Foothills School Division, subject to limited and specific exceptions as set out in the Act.
- Control the manner in which Foothills School Division collects, uses, and discloses personal information.
- Allow individuals to access personal information about themselves that is held by Foothills School Division, subject to specific and limited exceptions.
- Allow individuals to request corrections to personal information about themselves that is held by Foothills School Division.
- Provide individuals with the right to an independent review of the decisions made by Foothills School Division under the FOIP Act.
Protection of Privacy
The FOIP Act provides all individuals with the right to privacy and requires Foothills School Division to take reasonable measures to protect against any unauthorized collection, use, or disclosure of personal information. Under the FOIP Act, personal information is defined as any recorded information about an identifiable individual, including, but not limited to, an individual’s name, address, age, educational history, identifying number, and medical history.
Foothills School Division collects information through a variety of methods. The personal information in the custody or control of the Division is considered private, is treated with confidentiality, and is kept secure. The disclosure of this information is done on a need to know basis only, and only as permitted by statutory law.
There are instances in which Foothills School Division may use and disclose the personal information in its possession without the express consent of affected individuals. These uses and disclosures are limited to those that are necessary for the purposes of delivering educational programming and ensuring the safety of staff and students. In accordance with a defined number of circumstances outlined in the FOIP Act, Foothills School Division may also be obligated to disclose personal information to other entities.
When Foothills School Division uses, and/or discloses personal information for reasons not directly related to delivering educational programming or ensuring student and staff safety, written consent is required. For activities that support student learning, Foothills School Division asks students and/or parents/guardians to provide written consent for such uses of their personal information during the student registration process and as needed throughout the school year. This consent is voluntary and may be revoked, in writing, at any time.
Foothills School Division has always made information available to students, their parents/guardians, employees, and the public. Most information can be obtained outside of the FOIP Act by asking the school or department directly, or by going to the Division website. The FOIP Act is complementary to, and does not replace, existing procedures for obtaining information held by Foothills School Division. However, any routine disclosure of personal information by Foothills School Division must comply with the FOIP Act.
Documents Already Available
In keeping with our desire to be open and transparent with the public, Foothills School Division routinely discloses the Division education plan, budget, audited financial statements, minutes of public Board meetings, policies, and Division achievement and diploma results.
In many instances, information is provided to individuals without having to submit a formal FOIP request. For all inquiries, please contact the school or department directly to request information. A FOIP request is considered the last alternative in the acquisition of information.
Making A Request Under FOIP
If the requested information is not released through routine disclosure and the explanation for why it is being withheld is unsatisfactory, a request can be made under the FOIP Act. FOIP requests must be made in writing to the FOIP Coordinator, who is available to make every reasonable effort to assist applicants throughout the formal FOIP request process. The Request to Access Information (Public Bodies) form and instructions on the process are available from the FOIP Coordinator.
Please note that requests for general information must include a cheque for the initial $25 processing fee made payable to the Foothills School Division. If applicable, fee estimates will be provided to applicants in accordance with the rates outlined in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Regulation.
Once a request has been received, a letter will be sent to the applicant acknowledging receipt of the request and the date by which a response will be provided. If required, the applicant may be contacted to clarify their request, to ensure that the Division can respond accurately and in accordance with legislated timeframes. The FOIP Act stipulates that public bodies have 30 calendar days to respond to requests. Under a limited number of conditions, a public body may exercise its right to extend the deadline for response.
Once the response is complete, a letter and the response package will be physically mailed to the applicant. The response letter will explain the contents of the release, inform the applicant of their right to request a review through the Office of the Informational and Privacy Commissioner, and, if applicable, identify any exceptions to disclosure that were applied to the records.