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Ottawa schools delay start of student survey

Privacy Commission to review content

Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) has delayed the start date of its new student survey. Originally scheduled to start on Nov 22, it has been delayed by a request from the office of the information and privacy commissioner of Ontario.

The commissioner was acting on complaints received from parents about the confidentiality of the survey. Sharlene Hunter, communications coordinator for OCSDB, says the board agreed to delay the start date while the privacy commissioner reviews the survey.

If the privacy commissioner okays the survey, it will be released at the beginning of December.

“There were two complaints issued. Neither were written; both were verbal. But once those two complaints were issued, they asked us if we could wait approximately two weeks so that they could review it,” says Hunter. “We have agreed to do that and hope that if there is anything we have missed, they will find it and we will go forward with the survey.”

Over the last month the survey has drawn attention as parents have voiced concerns over the detailed personal questions  — it covers subjects from family relationships to sexual orientation — and the survey’s confidentiality. Two separate surveys will be given, one for children from kindergarten to Grade 6, the other for students from Grades 7 to 12.

The survey is voluntary and confidential, with students having the option of filling out some questions, none of them or all of them. Data from the survey will help the board plan programs and services within schools as well as identify problem areas that need support. It will be used to gather demographic information about the school population.