Area of Law: Education / School Law
Answer # 1404
Student recordsRegion: Ontario Answer # 1404
What is the Ontario Student Record?
The Ontario Student Record (OSR) is the record of a student’s educational progress through schools in Ontario. The Education Act requires that the principal of a school collect information “for inclusion in a record in respect of each pupil enrolled in the school and to establish, maintain, retain, transfer and dispose of the record”. The Act also regulates access to an OSR and states that the OSR is “privileged for the information and use of supervisory officers and the principal and teachers of the school for the improvement of instruction” of the student. Each student, and the parent or guardian of a student who is not an adult (that is, a student who is under the age of eighteen), must be made aware of the purpose and content of, and have access to, all of the information contained in the OSR.
The Ministry of Education guideline sets out the policies with regard to the maintenance, use, retention, transfer, and disposal of the OSR. An OSR will be established for each student who enrols in a school operated by a school board or the Ministry of Education. Each student, and the parent or guardian of a student who is a minor, must be informed of the purpose and content of the OSR at the time of enrolment. The OSR is an ongoing record and will be transferred if the student transfers to another school in Ontario.
In addition to schools required to establish an OSR, the following schools may also choose to establish and maintain an OSR:
- private schools
- schools operated by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (formerly Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Canada) in First Nation communities (referred to as federal schools in this document)
- First Nation schools operated by Native education authorities
However, once an OSR is established by those schools, it must be administered according to the Ministry’s guidelines.
It is the duty of the principal of a school to:
- establish, maintain, retain, transfer, and dispose of a record for each student enrolled in the school in compliance with this guideline and the policies established by the board;
- ensure that the materials in the OSR are collected and stored in accordance with the policies in this guideline and the policies established by the board;
- ensure the security of the OSR;
- ensure that all persons specified by a board to perform clerical functions with respect to the establishment and maintenance of the OSR are aware of the confidentiality provisions in the Education Act and the relevant freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation.
What is in the OSR?
An OSR must consist of the following components:
- an OSR folder in the proper form,
- report cards,
- an Ontario Student Transcript, where applicable,
- a documentation file, where applicable,
- an office index card,
- additional information identified as being conducive to the improvement of the instruction of the student.
All school boards will use the Provincial Report Card, Grades 1-8, in all their elementary schools at least three times a year. For Grades 9-12, the Provincial Report Card, or an exact copy of it, will be forwarded to the parent or guardian of a student who is not an adult, or to the student if he or she is an adult. The school will retain the original, or an exact copy of the report card, in the student’s OSR folder, where it will be retained for five years after the student leaves the school.
For Grades 9-12 an Ontario Student Transcript (OST) will be maintained, showing the record of a student’s successful completion of Grade 9 and 10 courses, successful and unsuccessful attempts at completing Grade 11 and 12 courses and Ontario Academic Courses, and completion of other diploma requirements. The OST is part of the OSR.
Accessing student records
Every student has the right to have access to his or her OSR.
Parents and guardians
The parents of a student have the right to have access to the student’s OSR, until the student becomes an adult (age eighteen). Under both the Children’s Law Reform Act and the Divorce Act, 1985, the legal right of a non-custodial parent to have access to a child includes the right to make inquiries and to be given information concerning the child’s health, education, and welfare. Under the Education Act, only supervisory officers and the principal and teachers of the school have access to the OSR for the purpose of improving the instruction of the student. As noted above, additional access may be permitted under municipal and provincial freedom of information legislation, under specified and limited circumstances.
Ministry and School Boards
The Education Act permits the compiling and delivery of information contained in an OSR if it is required by the Minister of Education or the school board. In instances where ministry staff members are seeking to collect information from OSRs, students who are adults and parents of students who are not adults will be notified.
Courts and law enforcement agencies
Subsection 266(2) of the Education Act states that the OSR will not be produced in the course of any legal proceedings. There may be occasions, however, when access to the OSR of current students or former students will be sought. Both the municipal and provincial Freedom of Information Acts permit disclosure of personal information for the purposes of law enforcement. The conditions for disclosure and the definition of “law enforcement” are contained in the legislation. School boards should consult with their freedom of information coordinators and their legal counsel to determine whether they should develop policies on the disclosure of personal information in an OSR to courts and law enforcement agencies.
Use of student records
Information from an OSR may be used to assist in the preparation of a report required under the Education Act or the regulations made under it. Information from an OSR may also be used in the preparation of a report for an application for further education or an application for employment, if a written request for such a report is made by an adult student, a former student, or the parent(s) of a student.
The freedom of information legislation sets out criteria for the use of personal information. The purposes for which personal information in a student’s OSR is being used must be consistent with the policies in this guideline and with school board policies. Students who are adults and parents of students who are not adults should be informed of the uses of personal information at the time that that information is collected for inclusion in an OSR. The contents of the OSR should be reviewed on a regular basis according to the policies established by the school board to ensure that they remain conducive to the improvement of the instruction of the student.
For more information about education in Ontario, refer to the Ministry of Education website at edu.gov.on.ca.
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