Management of Child and Student Records GUIDELINES FOR: Directors and Principals Attention Preschools and Schools Further information Department of Education and Children’s Services Telephone: 8226 1555 Facsimile: 8410 1866 Responsible unit Legislation and Legal Services Unit (LLSU) Date of issue 1.3.09 Date of operation 1.3.09 Review date 1.3.10 Replacing Records Management: children and students in preschools and schools Authorised by: D. Mackie Position title Manager LLSU The law Schools and preschools, are subject to the requirements of Department of Premier and Cabinet Circular number 12, entitled "Information Privacy Principles". The department maintains records on students to assist in fulfilling its responsibilities as specified in the Children’s Services and Education Act. Such records are essential to the processes of enhancing learning, maintaining student health and welfare, educational planning, school administration and reporting to parents and students. All school records and documents remain the property of the Minister. What information? Information about children and students should only be recorded if it is relevant. It should be retained for the period for which it is valid and relevant to the student's education or welfare. All comments included in a child or student's individual file should be clearly signed and dated. A teacher's notes containing information or an opinion about an individual, and which are recorded in an individual’s record folder, a diary, or elsewhere in the preschool or school, are an official ``personal record'' for the purpose of the Cabinet Instructions. Where notes are made in a diary, they should be confined to a diary used exclusively for work reasons. Whilst the contents of the pupil record folder may differ between sites it is recommended that all records relating to a student be managed in the folder. At a minimum it is suggested the following should be placed in the folder: • Enrolment, admission and pupil information • Assessment records and reports • Transfer advice • School leaver statement / student achievement record • Records of absences • Leaving details (forwarding addresses / occupation etc) • Medical and family information • Student information card • Work experience records • Discipline records Parent/Student access to information Other than in exceptional circumstances students, children and their parents have the right to be informed of the nature of information recorded about them, the use to which it may be put and the usual practices of schools with respect to disclosure of such information. Students, children and their parents have the right to request access to their own records and to request amendments to those records in accordance with these guidelines. Adult students or parents are able to request access in writing at any time. Where a student is under 18 years of age, access to his/her personal records may be sought on his/her behalf by a custodial parent or guardian. Principals should use their discretion in relation to requests by students under 18 years of age. Directors/Principals are encouraged to facilitate all reasonable requests in these situations. If Directors/Principals have any concerns about a request, due to the nature of the material or costs involved in collecting the information, advice should be sought immediately from Legislation and Legal Services Unit - Freedom of Information Officer, telephone (08) 8226.1559. Children, students or parents who are not satisfied with the access given should be advised to make an application under the Freedom of Information Act in order to get a determination under the legislation and to gain a legal right of review. Further information and application forms may be obtained from the department's Freedom of Information officer, telephone (08) 8226.1559. Where an individual seeks a copy of his/her Student Achievement Record, a fee applies. Requests for copies of results of external examinations may be referred to SSABSA, 60 Greenhill Road, Wayville SA 5034, telephone (08) 8372.7400. Accessing another person’s information Where a person applies for access to another person's records and he/she cannot produce an authorisation from the record subject, he/she should be advised to make an application under the Freedom of Information Act. Retaining records Records should be retained for various minimum periods, after which they may be destroyed or, in the case of some school records, deposited in State Records. For the retention periods for student records see School Record Management. Reports from other departments, agencies or individuals should not be placed in an individual’s file. eg. Mandatory Report records – see Documenting notifications. These must be securely stored in the office of the director, principal, deputy principal or student counsellor. A brief reference to such reports may be included so as to facilitate a request for further information from that department, agency or individual. Access to these reports is the responsibility of the other department, agency or individual, unless there is an agreement to the contrary by the agency concerned. Staff access to student records Access of school and preschool staff to student records should be on a "need to know" basis. Staff should only have access to information, student files in EDSAS or hard copy when there is a school purpose. The information must be used for the purpose for which it was collected. Any employee who, in the course of carrying out his/her duties, is subject to legal action relating to the management of student records, will be indemnified by the Minister. Directors and principals responsibilities Leaders should: • Establish and maintain effective procedures for the maintenance and security of student records. • Inform students and their parents of their rights to information privacy and access to their personal records. A preschool or school handbook or prospectus should contain a section outlining these rights and any school or preschool-developed strategies for managing the processes involved. • Ensure that personal information collected for administrative and emergency use is updated at least annually. • Ensure that the information is only used in accord DECS instructions. • ensure that strategies are developed for the regular culling of child and student files in order to pre-empt problems which may arise at a later date. Ways in which schools and preschools may operate in accordance with the Government's instructions are set out below. Collection of Information Information should not be collected unlawfully, unfairly or unnecessarily. Children and students must be accorded the same rights with respect to the collection of information about them as any other person. Personal information should be sought and given without harassment. Particular caution should be exercised with respect to records constructed as a result of interviews or conversations. All such records must be clearly signed and dated by the recorder. Children, students or their parents should be given an opportunity, from the outset, to confirm or amend by annotation such records, clearly signing and dating each such confirmation or amendment. Hearsay information should be so identified. Actions when collecting information from parents/carers and students Before collecting personal information about children and students (and their families) or, if not practicable, as soon as possible afterwards, the child, student and his/her parents should be told: • the purpose for which the information is being collected • of any legal authorisation or requirement to collect such information. In such cases, the parents of children or students under 18 years of age must be informed unless the information relates to mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse • the preschool or school's policy with respect to the disclosure of such information • school and preschool staff should incorporate the above principles in any preschool or school-designed forms used for collecting information about children, students or their families • children, students or their parents should be clearly informed of these principles prior to the recording of any information about them arising from interviews, conversations and hearsay evidence from third parties • no personal information about students or children should be retained in individual student files without parental knowledge, unless the student is over 18 years of age. Information which is irrelevant, out-of-date, incomplete or excessively personal should not be collected or transferred to another school. When students transfer At major times of transition to the next level of schooling (CPC/JP; JP/PS; PS/HS), when transferring to another preschool or school and on leaving school or preschool, individual record folders and files should be culled of all but essential information to minimise the potential for misinterpretation or misuse. It may be desirable to involve parents in this process. Forms for the transition to the next level of schooling should be developed by consultation between schools and/or levels within schools and should double as a report to parents, thus avoiding duplication of effort and ensuring that parents are fully informed both of the educational progress of their child and of the information being forwarded regarding their child. Wherever practicable, "sentences" should be incorporated into any forms used for collecting personal information to facilitate the culling process. Comments regarding verified reports of serious instances of an individual’s misbehaviour should only be retained while relevant and should not generally be retained as a permanent record unless required by law. Comments regarding work habits and attitudes of individuals made as a result of child or student observations should be reviewed periodically to decide whether they are still relevant and whether they should remain part of the individual’s continuing record or file. Storage of Information All reasonable steps should be taken to ensure that information about an individual is securely stored and not misused. Filing cabinets containing child or student records should be locked when not under the direct supervision of personnel authorised to supervise them. Rooms, offices or buildings which contain personal records in unlocked files or drawers must be locked when unattended. Normal practices with respect to the security of child and student records and delegation of authority should be clearly articulated in preschool or school policy statements. Authority to access computer records must be clearly delegated and controlled by appropriate passwords. Such passwords should be reviewed regularly to maximise security. Screens should be placed so that they are not visible to visitors, e.g. at the front counter, and the work-station should be logged off when unattended. Correction of Information Preschool and school staff, in partnership with individuals and parents, should take all reasonable steps to correct any personal information about individuals or their families which is misleading, out of date, incomplete or irrelevant. Wherever practicable, preschool or schools should take pre-emptive action in culling such information from files. Individuals or parents, having gained access to individual records, may request that the records be corrected. Where staff, individuals or parents are in agreement, correction may simply be achieved by removing a particular record or comment from the file or record. If, however, the preschool or school maintains that a valid educational reason exists for the retention of such records or comments, a compromise may be reached by amending the record by annotation (signed and dated) deleting part of the record or recording the nature of the objection to the record or comment (signed and dated). Unresolved requests for correction of records should involve an application under the Freedom of Information Act. Use of Personal Information Personal information should not be used other than for the original purpose for which it was collected, unless: • adult students or parents have consented to such other use • the principal, director or his/her delegate believes, on reasonable grounds, that such other use is necessary to prevent or lesson a serious and imminent threat to the health, safety or welfare of the student or other persons • the information is necessary for the purpose of genuine educational or other research • the use is required or authorised by law. Where personal information is used to justify any course of action, preschool and schools are obliged to take all reasonable steps to ensure that such information is accurate, complete and up-to-date and that all actions are appropriately documented. Where directors/principals are uncertain they should contact the Freedom of Information Officer, telephone (08) 8226.1559 Disclosure of Information Personal information about an individual should not be disclosed unless: • an adult student or a parent has consented to such disclosure, • the consent being specific to time and place • the principal, director or his/her delegate has reasonable grounds to believe that such disclosure is necessary to prevent or lesson a serious and imminent threat to the health, safety or welfare of the individual or other persons • the disclosure is necessary for genuine educational or other research in accordance with the DECS guidelines • the disclosure is required or authorised by law. Staff may only withhold personal information about an individual under 18 years of age from his or her parent if they reasonably believe that the disclosure of the information would be prejudicial to his or her health, safety or welfare. In the event court orders or family court actions being in force, preschool and schools should exercise particular caution before disclosing personal information. Principals and directors should refer to Dealing with Family Law Issues in Preschools and Schools for advice regarding this sensitive issue. Where any doubt exists, the director or principal should contact the DECS Legislation and Legal Services (8226 1555). References Requests for copies of results of external examinations may be referred to SSABSA – www.ssabsa.sa.edu.au. Storage of Permanent Value Records To determine whether a particular document is a permanent value record, please refer to either General Disposal Schedule 15 for Administrative Records or General Disposal Schedule 22 for School Records. These documents are available from www.decs.sa.gov.au/rmp. Storage of Temporary Value Records For further information on the management and storage of temporary records please visit www.decs.sa.gov.au/rmp. Disposal of Student and School Records All school records, including student records, must be disposed of in accordance with the relevant disposal schedule. For schools the two disposal schedules that must be considered are: • General Disposal Schedule 15 for Administrative Records • General Disposal Schedule 22 for School Records These documents are available at www.decs.sa.gov.au/rmp and provide details of how long each individual record needs to be retained.