OIA request from Broadleaf Consulting - advice for principals
A number of schools received an Official Information Act (OIA) request on Friday 24 November from Broadleaf Consulting. PPTA advice to principal (NZSPC) members follows:
Schools are subject to the provisions of the OIA
It is important to note that schools are subject to the provisions of the OIA and therefore need to respond to each of the request
Privacy is of utmost importance when deciding what information to provide
When deciding what information to provide in response to an OIA request it is of utmost importance to consider the privacy of individuals that are the subject of that request.
The PPTA consider that under section 9(2)(a) of the OIA, there is a significant risk that individuals who have been the subject to competence or conduct processes, or were terminated may be able to be identified.
Schools are tight-knit places and are the focal point of our communities, particularly those that have a small number of staff or in rural locations. The sharing of data in these circumstances may mean that information about their employment relationship which the teacher thought would be private would now be shared to an external organisation. This may breach the privacy of that individual.
PPTA recommends Ombudsman's guide to privacy under the OIA
These judgments must be made on a school by school basis as every context is different. The PPTA recommends that in providing a response to these requests, principals read the Ombudsman’s guide on maintaining individual’s privacy under the OIA (below). There will clearly be some schools where it would be valid to withhold the requested data to ensure that individual’s privacy is protected.
Information schools would not hold in their records
With regards to requests 2 and 3, the PPTA would recommend that section 18(g) of the OIA may be considered as this would be information that schools would not reliably hold in their records.