Videotaping in the Classroom - Advice to MembersPDF VersionETFO members videotaping themselves, their colleagues, or teacher candidates, in the classroom for purposes of self-evaluation, or peer reflection, raises a number of potential issues. While ETFO recognizes the potential value of using video as a means of seeking to improve, ETFO does not encourage members to engage in this particular practice. It is fraught with risks for members and could lead to serious issues down the road, including potential fines and/or discipline. Privacy Concerns Members have professional obligations to maintain the confidentiality of all personal information about a student, teacher, or other individuals in their classroom. Videotaping in the classroom, where images of students, teachers, and others may be captured raises a number of these privacy concerns. Personal information regarding students, teachers, and others is largely private. Educational staff are subject to an array of obligations concerning the collection, use, storage, disclosure, and disposal of private and personal information. The Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA) applies with respect to the personal information of students, teachers, and others. The definition of “personal information” in MFIPPA is very broad and includes videotaped images. The Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) and the College of Early Childhood Educators (CECE) have also cautioned members to be mindful of the privacy of student personal information. The privacy concerns of others who may be in the class (including EAs, parent helpers, etc.) must also be considered. Consents a) For Students Prior to undertaking any videotaping which could involve students, ETFO members would need written permission from parents and their school board. With respect to parents, that permission must take the form of a consent form. Parents must also receive notice that personal information about a student has been collected. The notice must set out the purposes of the collection, contact details for someone who can answer questions about the collection, and the legal authority for the collection. b) For Teachers and Others If teachers are videotaping other teachers, EAs, DECEs, or others, for whatever reason, they must ensure that the individual captured on video also signs a consent form. The consent form should include the express permission of the person being videotaped, restrictions on the uses to which the video will be put, and information concerning how the videotape will be either stored and/or destroyed. Video Storage MFIPPA does not contain detailed language on the storage of personal information. However, MFIPPA requires that school boards document and implement “reasonable measures to prevent unauthorized access” to records containing personal information. Given this requirement, school boards should have policies in place about the storage of personal information, and school staff should familiarize themselves with these policies or, with the assistance of ETFO, request training on storage. Storing video on a home computer, keeping the copy on a zip drive in your briefcase or at home, or e-mailing it home to yourself to review may be inconsistent with board policies. It should be noted that the disclosure rules under MFIPPA do not allow for disclosure through inadvertence or error. Education staff should consider how videos that are in their possession at schools are stored: are they accessible to other teachers or students in the classroom? Can other staff or visitors to the school access them? If staff are unsure, they should seek direction from their school administrator. If staff thinks that the school board has not implemented secure storage systems for personal information at school, this could be raised through ETFO. Liability Under MFIPPA anyone who “wilfully” discloses personal information in contravention of the statute is guilty of an offence, and may have to pay a fine of up to $5,000. These provisions apply not just to school boards, but also to education staff. This means that education staff must be diligent in working to understand what MFIPPA requires of them as they carry out their professional duties. In addition, and as noted above, the disclosure rules under both statutes do not allow for disclosure through inadvertence or error. College of Teachers / College of Early Childhood EducatorsIn addition to raising a number of privacy concerns, videotaping a classroom and capturing images or other information, even inadvertently, could be considered professional misconduct by both the OCT and the CECE. Both Regulation 437/97 of the Ontario College of Teachers Act and Regulation 233/08 of the Early Childhood Educators Act define professional misconduct in a manner that could include conduct related to videotaping in the classroom. The definition under both Regulations includes unauthorized disclosure of personal information, disgraceful, dishonourable, or unprofessional act or omissions, or conduct unbecoming a member, any of which could be triggered as a result of videotaping in the classroom. Board Policies / Protocols Education staff should be aware of policies their school boards have in place concerning privacy of personal information and what they require in terms of the collection, use, storage, disclosure, and destruction of personal information concerning students, teachers, and others. Failure to comply may lead to disciplinary consequences. ETFO’s policy on information and communication technology reinforces many of the issues addressed in this publication. It can be found on the ETFO website. Recommendations In light of the many sources of obligations around protecting the privacy of personal information of students, teachers, and others, ETFO recommends avoiding the practice of members videotaping themselves, colleagues, or teacher candidates in the classroom. However, if it is a common practice at your board, ETFO recommends the following best practices:
For further information contact your local ETFO president or Professional Relations staff in PRS at 416-962-3836 or 1-888-838-3836.