Public Records Request

21 days ago

PUBLIC ACCESS TO SCHOOL DISTRICT RECORDS PROCEDURE 4040-P

Purpose of these Procedures and General Principles
A public record is a broad term that means any paper, electronic or digital document or file created with public resources including employee time. Examples include printed or handwritten correspondence and documents, emails, texts, images, and digital postings and comments.

All work and District related digital media accounts shall be approved by the employee’s supervisor. Current username and password access to any account shall be provided to supervisor. Parents and guardians shall also be provided access to digital communications that include their students. Eastmont limits employees to the following communication technologies for District related communications:

         1.       District approved/monitored Google “Gmail” for Email

         2.       District approved/monitored Google “Hangouts” for supervisor initiated texting

         3.       District approved/monitored Facebook accounts

         4.       District approved/monitored Twitter accounts

         5.       District approved/monitored YouTube accounts.

         6.       District approved/monitored Instagram accounts.

         7.       District approved/monitored Pinterest accounts.

         8.       District approved/monitored Remind 101 type accounts.

         9.       Other supervisor and executive director approved social media accounts.

      10.     Student instruction or classroom related on-line accounts are prohibited due to the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) except if approved by the responsible supervisor and executive director. 

School district records relating to the conduct of operations and functions of the District that have been prepared, owned, used, or retained by the District in any format are, in fact, public records to which members of the public may request access consistent with this procedure.  When processing such requests, the District will provide the fullest assistance to the requestor and provide a timely response.

 

Public Records Officer
For the most timely and efficient response, requests for school district records should be directed in writing to the Public Records Officer listed below, whose responsibilities include serving as a point of contact for members of the public in this process and overseeing the District’s compliance with the Washington Public Records Act, Chapter 42.56 RCW, and Policy 4040. 

The current Public Records Officer of the District may be reached at the District’s Administrative Building as follows:
Eastmont School District
Brandy Fields, Secretary to the Superintendent
800 Eastmont Avenue
East Wenatchee, WA 98802
Phone: 509.884.7169
Fax: 509.884.4210
Email: fieldsb@eastmont206.org

 

Public Records Officer Training
Consistent with state law, the Public Records Officer shall complete trainings related to the Washington Public Records Act and public records retention no later than ninety (90) days after assuming the responsibilities of the Public Records Officer.  After the initial training(s), the Public Records Officer must complete refresher training at intervals of no more than four years as long as he or she remains the District’s Public Records Officer.

 

Organization of Records
The District will maintain its records in a reasonable, organized manner and take reasonable actions to protect records from damage and disorganization. A requestor shall not take District records from District offices without the permission of the Public Records Officer or designee. During the inspection of records, a District employee will typically be present to protect records from damage or disorganization. 

 

Information Online
A variety of records and information are available on the District website at www.eastmont206.org  Requestors are encouraged to view the documents available on the website prior to submitting a records request.

 

Request to Public Records Officer
Any person wishing to inspect or copy public records of the District shall make the request in writing by letter, fax, or email addressed to the Public Records Officer, Superintendent, or Board of Directors and including the following information:

  • Name, address, telephone number, and email address of requestor;
  • Identification of the public records adequate for the Public Records Officer or designee to locate the records; and
  • The date the request is submitted to the District.

The District’s Public Records Request Form is available for use by requestors at the District’s Administration Office and online at www.eastmont206.org/public-record-request-ab5cb291

 

Identifiable Records
A request under the Washington Public Records Act, Chapter 42.56 RCW and District Policy 4040 must seek an identifiable record.  General requests for information from the District that do not seek identifiable records are not covered by Policy 4040.  Similarly, the District is not obligated by law to create a new record to satisfy a records request for information.  The District may choose to create a record depending on the nature of the request and the convenience of providing the information in a new document, such as when data from multiple locations is requested and can be more easily combined into a single new record.


What will it Cost? and Hours of Inspection
Inspecting records is free. Records are available for inspection and photocopying during normal business hours of the District, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., during the school year, and on days school is not in session, excluding legal holidays.  Records must be inspected at the offices of the District and an appointment is often required.

 

If you want copies of the records, the law allows state agencies to charge for the actual costs directly related to the copying of public records (Revised Code of Washington 42.56.120). These costs include such items as those related to the copy machine (maintenance, paper, and other supplies) and staff time devoted to the copying process. The agency may not charge a fee for inspection of records or staff time spent on locating records or retrieving records. The agency is not allowed to make a profit from copy fees.

 

Postage charges will be added when asked to send items through the U.S. mail or other delivery service. The District may decide not to charge for services if the cost is seen as negligible. In some instances, advance payment may be required.

 

Service

Fee

Review of requested records

No charge

20 pages or less

No charge

21 or more pages

$.10 per page for paper copies (charge includes first 20 pages)

Actual charge

If materials need to be copied by an outside source due to volume, current work load of staff, or any other reason, the requestor pays the actual amount invoiced.

Mailing envelopes or packaging

Actual cost of supplies

Postage

In the event a records request is estimated to exceed $25.00, the District, at its discretion, may require the requestor to deposit an amount not to exceed 10% of the estimated cost prior to the duplication of the record(s).

 

*NOTE: Fees may be charged above the basic fee schedule if a department has determined specific charges for a particular record. Before beginning to make the copies, the Public Records Officer or designee may require a deposit of up to ten percent of the estimated costs of copying all the records selected by the requestor. The Public Records Officer or designee may also require the payment of the remainder of the copying costs before providing all the records, or the payment of the costs of copying an installment before providing that installment.

Actual costs incurred by the District may include sales tax and will be accompanied by a receipt from the vendor. Examples include: FedEx Copy Center, photograph printing, etc. *Two-sided document equals two pages.

Requests Not in Writing
The Public Records Officer or designee may accept informal requests for public records by telephone or in person. To avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, however, requestors should be mindful that a request reduced to writing is always the preferred method.  If the Public Records Officer or designee receives a request by telephone or in person, the Public Records Officer will confirm his or her understanding of the request with the requestor in writing.


PROCESSING OF PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS 

Order of Processing Requests
The District will typically process requests in the order received. However, requests may also be processed out of order if doing so allows the most requests to be processed in the most efficient manner.

 

Central Review
Records requests not made to the Public Records Officer of the District will be forwarded by building level administrators, program administrators, or other staff receiving the request to the Public Records Officer for processing.

 

Five-Day Response
Within five (5) business days of receipt of a request, the Public Records Officer will do one or more of the following:

1.  Provide copies of the record(s) requested or make the record available for inspection—or, in the alternative, provide an internet address and link to the District’s website where the specific record can be accessed (provided that the requestor has not notified the District that he or she cannot access the records through the internet) ; or

2.  Acknowledge that the District has received the request and provide a reasonable estimate of the time it will require to fully respond; or

3.  Seek clarification of the request; or

4.  Deny the request (although no request will be denied solely on the basis that the request is overbroad).

In unusual circumstances, the District may also seek a court order enjoining disclosure pursuant to law.

If the District does not respond in writing within five business days of receipt of the request for disclosure, the requestor should contact the Public Records Officer to determine the reason for the failure to respond.


Providing Records in Installments
When the request is for a large number of records, the Public Records Officer or designee has the right to provide access for inspection and copying in installments. If, within thirty (30) days, the requestor fails to inspect the entire set of records or one or more of the installments, the Public Records Officer or designee may stop searching for the remaining records and close the request as discussed further below.

 

Purpose of Request
The District may inquire into the purpose for which a record is requested and may use the answer to aid in gathering responsive records and determining whether the public has a legitimate interest in obtaining the information.  However, a requester is not required to provide a purpose and the District may not decline to furnish the records solely because the requester refuses to furnish a purpose for the request.

 

Protecting Rights of Others
In the event that the requested records contain information that may affect rights of others and may be arguably exempt from disclosure, the Public Records Officer may, prior to providing the records, give notice to such others.  The notice may make it possible for the others to contact the requestor and ask him or her to revise the request, or, if necessary, seek a court order to prevent or limit the disclosure. The notice to the affected persons may also include a copy of the request.

 

Records Exempt from Disclosure
Some records are exempt from disclosure, in whole or in part, under a specific exemption contained in chapter 42.56 RCW or another statute which exempts or prohibits disclosure of specific information or records.

If the District believes that a record is exempt from disclosure and should be withheld, the Public Records Officer will state in writing the specific exemption (and statutory section) which applies and provide a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the record being withheld or redacted.  This exemption and explanation will be provided to the requestor in a withholding index or log.

If only a portion of a record is exempt from disclosure, but the remainder is not exempt, the Public Records Officer will redact the exempt portions, provide the nonexempt portions, and indicate to the requestor why portions of the record are being redacted in the withholding index or log.

 

List of Laws Exempting or Prohibiting Disclosure
Pursuant to RCW 42.56.070 (2), these rules contain a list of laws—other than those specifically listed in the Washington Public Records Act, Chapter 42.56 RCW—which may exempt disclosure of certain public records or portions of records. The District has identified the following laws:

  • The Family Educational and Privacy Rights Act (FERPA), 20 USC § 1232g (regarding student educational records);
  • Washington State Student Education Records Law, RCW 28A.605.030;
  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et. seq. and 34 C.F.R. Part 300 (protecting the confidentiality of personally identifying information contained in student records of students with disabilities).
  • Privileged communications and attorney work product, such as set forth in Chapter 5.60 RCW;
  • Criminal Records Privacy Act (CRPA), Chapter 10.97, RCW;
  • Information on students receiving free or reduced lunch, 42 USC § 1758(b)(6); 
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), 45 CFR parts 160-164 (regarding health care information privacy and security);
  • Abuse of Children – Protection and Procedure, RCW 26.44.010; RCW 26.44.030(9);
  • Notification of Juvenile Offenders, RCW 13.04.155(3);
  • Examination question for teachers or pupils prior to the examination, RCW 28A.635.040;
  • Public Law 98-24, Section 527 of the Public Health Services Act, 41 USC § 290dd-2 (confidentiality of alcohol and drug abuse patient records);
  • United States and Washington Constitutional provisions including, but not limited to, the right of privacy and freedom of association.

In addition to these exemptions, RCW 42.56.070 (9) prohibits providing access to lists of individuals requested for commercial purposes, and the District may not do so unless specifically authorized or directed by law.

The above list is for informational purposes only and is not intended to cover all possible exemptions from the public records law. The above list includes only exemptions which may be in addition to those set forth in Chapter 42.56 RCW. Under appropriate circumstances, the District may rely upon other legal exemptions which are not set forth above or contained within the public disclosure law.

 

Inspection of Records
Consistent with other demands, and without unreasonably disrupting District operations, the District shall promptly provide for the inspection of nonexempt public records. No member of the public may remove a document from the viewing area without the permission of the Public Records Officer, nor may he or she disassemble or alter any document. The requestor shall indicate which documents he or she wishes the District to copy. There is no cost to inspect District records.

 

Completion of Inspection
When the inspection of the requested records is complete and all requested copies are provided, the Public Records Officer or designee will indicate that the District has completed a diligent search for the requested records and made any located nonexempt records available for inspection.

 

Closing Withdrawn or Abandoned Request
The requestor must claim or review the assembled records within thirty (30) days of the District's notification to him or her that the records are available for inspection or copying. The District should notify the requestor in writing of this requirement and inform the requestor that he or she should contact the District to make arrangements to claim or review the records. If the requestor or a representative of the requestor fails to claim or review the records within the thirty-day period or make other arrangements, the District may close the request and refile the assembled records.

 When the requestor either withdraws the request or fails to fulfill his or her obligations to inspect the records or pay the deposit or final payment for the requested copies, the Public Records Officer will close the request and indicate to the requestor that the District has closed the request.

 

Later Discovered Documents
If, after the District has informed the requestor that it has provided all available records, the District becomes aware of additional responsive documents existing at the time of the request, it will promptly inform the requestor of the additional documents and provide them on an expedited basis.

 

PROCESSING OF PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS FOR ELECTRONIC RECORDS

Requesting Electronic Records

The process for requesting electronic public records is the same as for requesting paper public records. However, to assist the District in responding to a request for electronic records, a requestor should provide specific search terms that will allow the Public Records Officer or designee to locate and assemble identifiable records responsive to the request.

 

Due to the volume of electronic email transmissions, the District retains public documents for the following duration:

1.  Board, Superintendent, and supervisor emails and texts             7 years

2.  Non-supervisory emails and texts                                                     1 year

3.  Advertising and commercial solicitations (SPAM)                           24 hours or less

 

Providing Electronic Records
When a requestor requests records in an electronic format, the Public Records Officer or designee will provide the nonexempt records or portions of such records that are reasonably locatable in an electronic format that is used by the District and is generally commercially available, or in a format that is reasonably translatable from the format in which the District keeps the record.

 

Cost for Electronic Records
The cost of electronic copies of records shall be $2.50 for information provided by CD or DVD. There will be no charge for smaller requests which can be fulfilled by e-mailing electronic records to a requestor.  The Public Records Officer or designee may also require the payment of the costs of the CD or DVD before providing that installment.


INTERNAL REVIEW OF DENIALS OF PUBLIC RECORDS 

Petition for Internal Administrative Review of Denial of Access
Any person who objects to the initial denial or partial denial of a records request may petition in writing (including email) to the Public Records Officer for a review of that decision. The petition shall include a copy of or reasonably identify the written statement by the Public Records Officer or designee denying the request.

 

Consideration of Petition for Review
The Public Records Officer shall immediately consider the petition and shall either affirm or reverse the denial within two business days following the receipt of the petition, or within such other time as the District and the requestor mutually agree to.

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