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CBE to remove access to online student records for non-legal guardians

Travis Brookson said he was “blindsided” by a recent letter sent home to Calgary Board of Education (CBE) families that gives notice that access to children’s MyCBE/PowerSchool for non-legal guardians will be removed.

The CBE sent the letter to families this past week, informing them of the upcoming changes.

“We are not revoking parent access, but are removing access for non-legal guardians to online student information. This ensures we are in compliance with legislation,” an email response to questions read.

“Previously, others connected to the students such as stepparents or grandparents may have had access in some situations.”

Non-legal guardians will lose access unless there’s a court order on file showing they are a legal guardian.

Brookson’s wife, stepmom to his 12 and 10-year-old children for the past nine years, has always been involved with the children’s academics, he said.

“I have felt to date that parental rights extended to families, including families that choose to live common law,” Brookson said.

“I’ve always felt that Shannon had a voice at parent-teacher interviews, could email or call with teachers with any issues, and that it didn’t have to go through me.”

Compliance with legislation and legal precedence, said CBE

The CBE said the letter was sent out explaining to parents that they were taking this measure in compliance with legislation. The letter itself also includes that it’s a response to “recent legal decisions.”

When asked about the specific legislation this applies to, or current legal decisions, CBE media relations said the person best able to respond to those questions wasn’t immediately available.

There are some exceptions in this situation, the CBE said. This was included in the email:

They also said non-legal guardians can have access to information if they complete a Releasing Student Information from the Calgary Board of Education to Others form. The letter to parents states, however, that a student’s information may only be accessed in this regard at the school, over the phone (on phone number included on the form) or via email at only the email address on file.

‘…pandering to a notion step parents shouldn’t have equal rights.’

Brookson is concerned they don’t cite the legislation this applies to. He also said there’s a problem with not recognizing the rights of a step-parent.

“We can go a non-legal guardian route, but that in itself seems pandering to a notion that step parents shouldn’t have equal rights,” he said.

Further, the inability to share “access keys” with non-legal guardians, means the CBE can dictate how information is shared with a parent’s partner, Brookson said.

“That’s a very dangerous precedent,” he said.

Families submit a Demographic Verification Form each fall, the CBE said, and it now includes verification of email addresses of parents and legal guardians. If email addresses don’t match the aforementioned form, they will be deleted Jan. 31, 2020.

The letter home to parents states the removal process begins Feb. 3 and will be complete by Feb. 14, 2020.

Brookson believes this could affect thousands of Calgary families, and some may consider legal action.

“Either that or CBE is going to get a bill from every family that needs a court order,” he said.