GBAA(LEGAL) - INFORMATION ACCESS: REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION
Officer for Public Information and Required Notices
Officer for Public Information
A superintendent shall be a district's officer for public information. Each department head shall be an agent of the officer for purposes of complying with the public information laws.
The officer is responsible for the release of public information as required by the Public Information Act (PIA), Government Code Chapter 552. The officer for public information shall:
- Make public information available for public inspection and copying;
- Carefully protect public information from deterioration, alteration, mutilation, loss, or unlawful removal;
- Repair, renovate, or rebind public information when necessary to maintain it properly; and
- Make reasonable efforts to obtain public information from a temporary custodian if:
- The information has been requested from the district;
- The officer is aware of facts sufficient to warrant a reasonable belief that the temporary custodian has possession, custody, or control of the information;
- The officer is unable to comply with the duties imposed by the PIA without obtaining the information from the temporary custodian; and
- The temporary custodian has not provided the information to the officer or the officer's agent.
The officer is not responsible for the use made of the information by the requestor or the release of the information after it is removed from a record as a result of an update, correction, or change of status of the person to whom the information pertains.
Gov't Code 552.201(a)–.204
For a board that has designated a public information coordinator to satisfy its required PIA training, the designated public information coordinator shall complete the training course regarding the responsibilities of a district and district officers and employees under the PIA not later than the 90th day after the date the coordinator assumes the person's duties as coordinator. [See CPC(LOCAL)]
The training shall be not less than one nor more than two hours. The attorney general may provide the training and may also approve other acceptable sources of training.
A district shall maintain and make available for public inspection the record of a public information coordinator's completion of the training.
Gov't Code 552.012(b), (c), (e)
The officer for public information shall prominently display a sign in the form prescribed by the attorney general that contains basic information about the rights of a requestor, the responsibilities of a district, and the procedures for inspecting or obtaining a copy of public information under the PIA. The officer shall display the sign at one or more places in the district's administrative offices where it is plainly visible to:
- Members of the public who request public information in person; and
- Employees of the district whose duties include receiving or responding to public information requests.
Gov't Code 552.205
Access to Public Information
It shall be the policy of a district to provide a suitable copy of public information within a reasonable time after the date on which the copy is requested. Gov't Code 552.228
Method of Requesting Public Information
A person may make a written request for public information only by delivering the request by one of the following methods to the officer for public information or a person designated by that officer:
- United States mail;
- Electronic mail;
- Hand delivery; or
- Any other appropriate method approved by the district, including facsimile transmission and electronic submission through the district's website.
A district is considered to have approved another method only if the district includes a statement that a request for public information may be made by that method on the PIA sign [see PIA Sign, above] or the district's website.
A district may designate one mailing address and one electronic mail address for receiving written requests for public information and shall provide the designated mailing address and electronic mailing address to any person on request.
A district that posts a designated mailing address or electronic mail address on the district's website or that prints those addresses on the PIA sign is not required to respond to a written request for public information unless the request is received:
- At one of those addresses;
- By hand delivery; or
- By a method described above that has been approved by the district.
Gov't Code 552.234
Public Information Request Form
The attorney general shall create a public information request form that provides a requestor the option of excluding from a request information that the district determines is:
- Confidential; or
- Subject to an exception to disclosure that the district would assert if the information were subject to the request.
A district that allows requestors to use the form and maintains a website shall post the form on its website.
Gov't Code 552.235
A district may promulgate reasonable rules of procedure by which public information may be inspected and copied efficiently, safely, and without delay. These rules may not be inconsistent with any provision of the PIA. Gov't Code 552.230
Treatment of Requests
The officer for public information and agent shall not make an inquiry of a requestor, except to establish proper identification or to ask the requestor to narrow or clarify the request. The officer for public information or agent shall treat all requests for information uniformly without regard to the position or occupation of the requestor, the person on whose behalf the request is made, or the status of the individual as a member of the media. The officer for public information or agent shall give the requestor all reasonable comfort and facility for the full exercise of the right granted by the PIA. Gov't Code 552.222(a)–(b), .223–.224
Location of Access
An officer for public information complies with a request for public information by:
- Providing the information for inspection or duplication in a district's offices [see Time for Examination, below]. The PIA does not authorize a requestor to remove an original copy of a public record from the office of a district;
- Sending copies of the information by first class mail, if the requestor requests that copies be provided and pays the postage and any other applicable charges that the requestor has accrued under Subchapter F of the PIA [see Costs and Charges, below];
- By referring a requestor to an exact internet location or uniform resource locator (URL) address on a website maintained by the district and accessible to the public if the requested information is identifiable and readily available on that website. If the person requesting the information prefers a manner other than access through the URL, the district must supply the information by sending copies to the requestor, as described above.
If the officer for public information provides by email an internet location or URL address, the email must contain a statement in a conspicuous font clearly indicating that the requestor may nonetheless access the requested information by inspection or duplication or by receipt through United States Mail, as described above.
Gov't Code 552.221(b)–(b-2), .226
Time for Response
An officer for public information shall promptly produce public information for inspection, duplication, or both, on application by any person. "Promptly" means as soon as possible under the circumstances, that is, within a reasonable time, without delay. A district may not automatically withhold for ten business days public information not excepted from disclosure.
If an officer for public information cannot produce the public information for inspection or duplication within ten business days after the date the information is requested, the officer shall certify that fact in writing to the requestor and set a date and hour within a reasonable time when the information will be available for inspection or duplication.
If the requested information is unavailable because it is in storage or active use, an officer for public information shall certify this fact in writing to the requestor and set a date and hour within a reasonable time when the information will be available for inspection or duplication.
Gov't Code 552.221; Tex. Atty. Gen. ORD 664 (2000)
Requests to Narrow or Clarify
If a large amount of information has been requested, the district may discuss with the requestor how the scope of the request might be narrowed, but the district may not inquire into the purpose for which the information will be used. If what information is requested is unclear to the district, the district may ask the requestor to clarify the request.
If the request included the requestor's physical or mailing address, the district must send the request for discussion or clarification to that address by certified mail. The written request for discussion or clarification must include a statement as to the consequences of failure by the requestor to timely respond.
If the requestor's request for public information was sent by electronic mail, the district may send the request for clarification or discussion or the written request for additional information by electronic mail to the same electronic mail address from which the original request was sent or to another electronic mail address provided by the requestor.
If the district does not receive a written response or a response by electronic mail, as applicable, by the 61st day after the district sends the written request, the underlying request for public information is considered to have been withdrawn by the requestor.
Gov't Code 552.222(b), (d)–(g)
Time for Examination
A requestor shall complete the examination of the information not later than the tenth business day after the date the custodian of the information makes it available. If the requestor does not complete the examination within ten business days and does not file a request for additional time, the requestor is considered to have withdrawn the request.
The officer shall extend the initial examination period by an additional ten business days if, within the initial period, the requestor files with the officer a written request for additional time. The officer shall extend an additional examination period by another ten business days if, within the first additional period, the requestor files with the officer a written request for more additional time.
The time during which a person may examine information may be interrupted by the officer if the information is needed for use by the district. The period of interruption is not considered to be a part of the time during which the person may examine the information.
A request is considered to have been withdrawn if the requestor fails to inspect or duplicate the public information in the offices of the governmental body on or before the 60th day after the date the information is made available or fails to pay the postage and any other applicable charges accrued under Government Code, Chapter 552, Subchapter F on or before the 60th day after the date the requestor is informed of the charges.
Gov't Code 552.221(e), .225
If public information exists in an electronic or magnetic medium, the requestor may request a copy in an electronic medium, such as on diskette or on magnetic tape. A district shall provide a copy in the requested medium:
- If the district has the technological ability to produce the information in the requested medium;
- If the district is not required to purchase any software or hardware to accommodate the request; and
- Providing the copy will not violate any copyright agreement between the district and a third party.
If a district is unable to comply with a request to produce a copy of information in a requested medium for any of these reasons, the district shall provide a copy in another medium that is acceptable to the requestor. A district is not required to copy information onto a diskette or other material provided by the requestor but may use district supplies.
Gov't Code 552.228
Requests Requiring Programming or Manipulation
A district shall provide the requestor a written statement, described below, if the district determines:
- That responding to a request for information will require programming or manipulation of data; and
- Compliance with the request is not feasible or will result in substantial interference with operations; or
- The information could be made available in the requested form only at a cost that covers the programming and manipulation of data.
The written statement shall include:
- A statement that the information is not available in the requested form;
- A description of the form in which the information is available;
- A description of any contract or services that would be required to provide the information in the requested form;
- A statement of the estimated cost of providing the information in the requested form, as determined in accordance with the rules established by the attorney general [see GBAA(EXHIBIT)]; and
- A statement of the anticipated time required to provide the information in the requested form.
Response Time When Programming or Manipulation Is Required
A district shall provide the written statement to the requestor within 20 days after the date the district receives the request. The district has an additional ten days to provide the statement if the district gives written notice to the requestor, within 20 days after receiving the request, that additional time is needed.
After providing the written statement described above, the district has no further obligation to provide the information in the requested form or in the form in which it is available, unless within 30 days the requestor states in writing that the requestor:
- Wants the information in the requested form according to the time and cost parameters set out in the written statement, or according to other terms to which the requestor and the district agree; or
- Wants the information in the form in which it is available.
If a requestor does not make a timely written statement, the requestor is considered to have withdrawn the request for information.
Processing of Requests
The officer for public information shall establish policies that assure the expeditious and accurate processing of requests for information that require programming or manipulation of data. A district shall maintain a readily accessible file containing all written statements issued concerning requests for information that require programming or manipulation of data.
Gov't Code 552.231
Repetitious or Redundant Requests
If a district determines that a requestor has made a request for information for which the district has previously furnished or made copies available to the requestor, the district may:
- Respond to the request for information as set forth below, at Procedures; or
- Furnish the information or make the information available to the requestor again in accordance with the request. If the district selects this option, the district is not required to comply with the procedures described below.
Gov't Code 552.232(a)
These provisions do not apply to information not previously furnished to a requestor. A district shall treat a request for information for which copies have not been previously furnished or made available to the requestor, including information that was not furnished or made available because the information was redacted or because the information did not exist at the time of an earlier request, in the same manner as any other request for public information. Gov't Code 552.232(d)
A district shall, free of charge, certify to the requestor that copies of all or part of the requested information were previously furnished or made available to the requestor. The certification must include:
- A description of the information for which copies have been previously furnished or made available to the requestor;
- The date the district received the requestor's original request for that information;
- The date the district previously furnished copies or made available copies of the information to the requestor;
- A certification that no subsequent additions, deletions, or corrections have been made to that information; and
- The name, title, and signature of the officer for public information or agent making the certification.
Gov't Code 552.232(b), (c)
Requests for Contracting Information Not Maintained by the District
"Contracting information" means the following information maintained by a district or sent between a district and a vendor, contractor, potential vendor, or potential contractor:
- Information in a voucher or contract relating to the receipt or expenditure of public funds by a district;
- Solicitation or bid documents relating to a contract with a district;
- Communications sent between a district and a vendor, contractor, potential vendor, or potential contractor during the solicitation, evaluation, or negotiation of a contract;
- Documents, including bid tabulations, showing the criteria by which a district evaluates each vendor, contractor, potential vendor, or potential contractor responding to a solicitation and, if applicable, an explanation of why the vendor or contractor was selected; and
- Communications and other information sent between a district and a vendor or contractor related to the performance of a final contract with the district or work performed on behalf of the district.
Gov't Code 552.003(7)
Government Code 552.371 applies to an entity that is not a governmental body that executes a contract with a district that:
- Has a stated expenditure of at least $1 million in public funds for the purchase of goods or services by the district; or
- Results in the expenditure of at least $1 million in public funds for the purchase of goods or services by the district in a fiscal year of the district.
Government Code 552.371 applies to a written request for public information received by a district that is party to a contract described above for contracting information related to the contract that is in the custody or possession of the entity and not maintained by the district.
Gov't Code 552.371(a), (b)
Request to Contracting Entity
A district that receives a written request for contracting information shall request that the entity provide the information to the district. The district must send the request in writing to the party not later than the third business day after the date the district receives the written request. Gov't Code 552.371(c)
Request for Attorney General Opinion
A district's request for an attorney general's decision to determine whether contracting information not maintained by the district falls within an exception to disclosure under the PIA is considered timely if made not later than the 13th business day after the date the district receives the written request described above. Gov't Code 552.371(d)(1)
The statement and copy described below [see Statement to Requestor] is considered timely if provided to the requestor not later than the 13th business day after the date the district receives the written request. Gov't Code 552.371(d)(2)
A submission and copy described below [see Submission to Attorney General] is considered timely if sent not later than the 18th business day after the date the district receives the written request. Gov't Code 552.371(d)(3), (4)
The presumption that information is subject to disclosure [see Time for Request, below] does not apply if a district:
- Complies with the requirements of Government Code 552.371(c) in a good faith effort to obtain contracting information not maintained by the district;
- Is unable to meet a deadline because the contracting entity failed to provide the information to the district not later than the 13th business day after the date the district received the written request for the information; and
- Complies with all notice requirements not later than the eighth business day after the date the district receives the information from the contracting entity.
Gov't Code 552.371(e)
Nothing in Government Code 552.371 affects the deadlines or duties of a district related to requesting an attorney general opinion regarding contracting information the district maintains. Gov't Code 552.371(f)
Withholding Excepted Information
Request for Attorney General Decision
If a district receives a written request for information that the district considers to be within one of the exceptions to required disclosure and that the district wishes to withhold from public disclosure, the district shall request a decision from the attorney general about whether the information is within the exception [see Submission to Attorney General, below]. Gov't Code 552.301(a)
A district may only request an attorney general decision if the district reasonably believes that the requested information is excepted from required disclosure. Tex. Atty. Gen. ORD 665 (2000)
Time for Request
A district must submit the request to the attorney general not later than the tenth business day after receiving the written request. If a district does not timely request a decision from the attorney general and comply with the requirements at Statement to Requestor, below, the information is presumed to be subject to public disclosure and must be released unless there is a compelling reason to withhold it.
Gov't Code 552.301(b), .302
For the purposes of Government Code sections 552.301–.308, if a district receives a written request by United States mail and cannot adequately establish the actual date of receipt, the request is considered to have been received by the district on the third business day after the date of the postmark on a properly addressed request. Gov't Code 552.301(a-1)
When Government Code sections 552.301–.308 require a request, notice, or other document to be submitted or otherwise given to the attorney general within a specified period, the requirement is met in a timely fashion if the district submits the document through the attorney general's designated electronic filing system within that period. This provision does not affect the right of a district to submit information to the attorney general by mail under Government Code 552.308.
When the attorney general is required to deliver a notice, decision, or other document within a specified period, the requirement is met in a timely fashion if the attorney general electronically transmits the document within that period.
For information surrendered or returned to a district by a temporary custodian, the district is considered to receive the request for that information on the date the information is surrendered or returned to the district. [See GB]
Gov't Code 552.233(d), .309
Except as set forth at Government Code section 552.301(g), a district may not request an attorney general decision if the district has previously requested and received a determination from the attorney general concerning the precise information at issue in a pending request and the attorney general or a court determined that the information is not within one of the exceptions. This exception applies to specific information that is again requested from a district after the attorney general has previously issued a decision regarding the precise information or records at issue. Gov't Code 552.301(f); Tex. Atty. Gen. ORD 673 (2001)
Categories of Information
A district may rely on a previous determination by the attorney general regarding a specific, clearly delineated category of information if:
- The previous decision is applicable to a school district;
- The previous decision concludes that the category of information is or is not excepted from public disclosure;
- The elements of law, fact, and circumstances are met to support the previous decision's conclusion that the requested records and information at issue are or are not excepted from public disclosure; and
- The previous decision explicitly provides that the governmental body or bodies to which the decision applies may withhold the information without the necessity of seeking a decision from the attorney general.
Tex. Atty. Gen. ORD 673 (2001)
A district that relies on any previous determination to withhold information from disclosure should notify the requestor in writing of the decision or ruling upon which it is relying.
A district may withhold from public disclosure the categories of records listed at Texas Attorney General Open Records Decision 684 (2009).
Tex. Atty. Gen. ORD 684 (2009)
A district may withhold from public disclosure personally identifiable, non-directory information in "education records" as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 ("FERPA"), 20 U.S.C. 1232g [see FL]. Tex. Atty. Gen. ORD 634 (1995)
Statement to Requestor
If a district requests an attorney general decision, it shall provide to the requestor within a reasonable time but not later than the tenth business day after the date of receiving the requestor's written request:
- A written statement that the district wishes to withhold the requested information and has asked for a decision from the attorney general about whether the information is within an exception to public disclosure; and
- A copy of the district's written communication to the attorney general asking for the decision. If a district's written communication to the attorney general discloses the requested information, the district shall provide a redacted copy of that written communication.
Gov't Code 552.301(d)
Submission to Attorney General
When a district requests an attorney general decision, it shall, within a reasonable time but not later than the15th business day after receiving the request for information, submit to the attorney general all of the following:
- Written comments stating the reasons why the stated exceptions apply that would allow the information to be withheld;
- A copy of the written request for information;
- A signed statement as to the date on which the written request for information was received by the district or evidence sufficient to establish that date; and
- A copy of the specific information requested, or representative samples of the information if a voluminous amount of information was requested. The district shall label the copies or representative samples to indicate which exceptions apply to which parts of the copy.
The district shall send a copy of the comments to the requestor not later than the 15th business day after the district receives the written request. If the written comments disclose or contain the substance of the information requested, the copy of the comments provided to the requestor shall be redacted.
Gov't Code 552.301(e), (e-1)
Unless the information is confidential by law, the district may disclose the requested information to the public or the requestor before a final determination that the information is public has been made by the attorney general or a court with jurisdiction. Gov't Code 552.303(a)
If the attorney general determines that additional information is necessary to render a decision, the attorney general shall give the district and the requestor written notice of that fact. The district shall submit the necessary additional information to the attorney general not later than the seventh calendar day after the date the notice is received. If the district does not comply with the attorney general's request, the information is presumed to be subject to required public disclosure and must be released unless there is a compelling reason to withhold the information. Gov't Code 552.303(c)–(e)
Privacy or Property Interests
If information is requested and a person's privacy or property interests may be involved, including a case under Government Code 552.101 (information confidential by law), 552.110 (trade secrets), 552.1101 (proprietary information), 552.114 (student records), 552.131 (economic development information), or 552.143 (investment information) a district may decline to release the information for the purpose of requesting a decision from the attorney general. A person whose interests may be involved, or any other person, may submit in writing to the attorney general the person's reasons why the information should be withheld or released. A district may, but is not required to, submit its reasons why the information should be withheld or released. Gov't Code 552.305(a)–(c)
Notice to Owner of Proprietary Information
If release of a person's proprietary information may be subject to exception under Government Code 552.101 (information confidential by law), 552.110 (trade secrets), 552.1101 (proprietary information), 552.113 (geological or geophysical information), 552.131 (economic development information), or 552.143 (investment information), a district that requests an attorney general decision shall make a good faith attempt to provide written notice to that person of its request. The notice must:
- Be sent within a reasonable time not later than the tenth business day after the district receives the request for information; and
- A copy of any written request a district received for the information; and
- A statement, in the form prescribed by the attorney general, that the person is entitled to submit to the attorney general, not later than the tenth business day after the person receives the notice, a written statement of the reason(s) why the information should be withheld and a letter, memorandum, or brief supporting the reason(s).
Gov't Code 552.305(d)
Charges Regarding Public Information Requests
Costs and Charges
The charge for providing a copy of public information shall be an amount that reasonably includes all costs related to reproducing the information, including costs of materials, labor, and overhead. The charges shall not be excessive and shall not exceed the actual cost of producing the information or for making public information that exists in a paper record available.
Charges for providing a copy of public information are considered to accrue at the time the district advises the requestor that the copy is available on payment of the applicable charges.
50 Pages or Less
If a request is for 50 or fewer pages of paper records, the charge for providing the copy of the information shall be limited to the charge for each page of the paper record that is photocopied, unless the pages to be photocopied are located in two or more separate buildings that are not physically connected with each other or a remote storage facility. The charge for providing a copy may not include costs of materials, labor, or overhead.
Statement of Labor Costs
If the charge for providing a copy of public information includes costs of labor, the requestor may require the officer for public information or agent to provide the requestor with a written statement as to the amount of time that was required to produce and provide the copy. The statement must be signed by the officer or agent, and the officer or agent's name must be typed or legibly printed below the signature. A charge may not be imposed for providing the written statement to the requestor.
All requests received in one calendar day from an individual may be treated as a single request for purposes of calculating costs. A district may not combine multiple requests from separate individuals who submit requests on behalf of an organization.
Gov't Code 552.261, .262(a)
Attorney General's Rules
A district shall use the attorney general's rules to determine the charges for providing copies of public information and to determine the charge, deposit, or bond required for making public information that exists in a paper record available for inspection, except to the extent that other law provides for charges for specific kinds of public information. [See GBAA(EXHIBIT)]
A district may determine its own charges for providing copies of public information and its own charge, deposit, or bond for making public information that exists in a paper record available for inspection. However, a district may not charge an amount that is greater than 25 percent more than the amount established by the attorney general, unless the district requests an exemption. Gov't Code 552.262(a); 1 TAC 70.1(b)
A district may request that it be exempt from part or all of the rules adopted by the attorney general for determining charges. The request must be made in writing to the attorney general and must state the reason for the exemption. If a district receives notice from the attorney general that an exemption has been granted, the district may amend its charges according to the attorney general's determination. Gov't Code 552.262(c)
Copies for Parents
A district may charge a reasonable fee in accordance with the above requirements for copies of materials provided to parents pursuant to Education Code Chapter 26. Education Code 26.012
Statement of Estimated Charges
If a request for a copy of public information will result in the imposition of a charge that exceeds $40, a district shall provide the requestor with a written itemized statement that details all estimated charges that will be imposed, including any allowable charges for labor or personnel costs. If an alternative less costly method of viewing the records is available, the statement must include a notice that the requestor may contact the district regarding the alternative method. A district must inform the requestor of the responsibilities imposed on the requestor by Government Code 552.2615 and the rights granted by that section and give the requestor the information needed to respond as detailed in Government Code 552.2615(a).
If, after a district provides the requestor the itemized statement but before it makes the copy or the paper record available, the district determines that the estimated charges will exceed the charges detailed in the original itemized statement by 20 percent or more, the district shall send to the requestor an updated written itemized statement that details all estimated charges that will be imposed, including any allowable charges for labor or personnel costs.
A request for which a district is required to produce an (original or updated) itemized statement of estimated charges is considered to have been withdrawn if the requestor does not respond in writing to the itemized statement by informing the district within ten business days after the date the statement is sent to the requestor that:
- The requestor will accept the estimated charges;
- The requestor is modifying the request in response to the itemized statement; or
- The requestor has sent to the attorney general a complaint alleging that the requestor has been overcharged for being provided with a copy of the public information.
If the actual charges exceed $40, the charges may not exceed:
- The amount estimated in the updated itemized statement; or
- If an updated itemized statement is not sent to the requestor, an amount that exceeds by 20 percent or more the amount estimated in the original itemized statement.
Timing of Deadlines
An original or updated itemized statement is considered to have been sent by a district, and a requestor is considered to have responded to the statement, on the date that the statement or response is:
- Delivered in person;
- Deposited, properly addressed, in the U.S. Mail; or
- Transmitted by electronic mail or facsimile, provided the requestor agrees to receive the statement by those means.
The time deadlines for providing or responding to the required statement of estimated charges do not affect the application of a time deadline imposed on a district for requesting a decision by the attorney general under Government Code 552, Subchapter G.
Gov't Code 552.2615
Deposit or Bond
The officer for public information or agent may require a deposit or bond for payment of anticipated costs for the preparation of a copy of public information if:
- The officer or agent has provided the requestor with the written itemized statement required by Government Code 552.2615 [see Statement of Estimated Charges, above]; and
- The charge for providing the copy is estimated by the district to exceed $100, if the district has more than 15 full-time employees, or $50, if the district has fewer than 16 full-time employees.
The officer or agent may not require a deposit or bond as a down payment for copies of public information that the requestor may request in the future.
Gov't Code 552.263(a), (b)
For the purposes of charging for providing copies of public information or for requesting an attorney general's opinion, a request for a copy of public information is considered to have been received by the district on the date the district receives the deposit or bond. Gov't Code 552.263(e)
A requestor who fails to make such a deposit or post such a bond before the tenth business day after the date the deposit or bond is required is considered to have withdrawn the request. Gov't Code 552.263(f)
If a requestor modifies a request in response to the requirement of a deposit or bond, the modified request is considered a separate request and is considered received on the date the district receives the written modified request. Gov't Code 552.263(e-1)
The officer for public information or agent may require a deposit or bond for payment of unpaid amounts the requestor owes a district in relation to previous public information requests before preparing a copy of public information in response to a new request, if those unpaid amounts exceed $100. The officer for public information or agent may not seek payment of those unpaid amounts through any other means. Gov't Code 552.263(c)
A district that receives a request from a requestor who, within the preceding 180 days, has accepted but failed to pay written itemized statements of estimated charges from the district as provided under Government Code 552.261(b) may require the requestor to pay the estimated charges for the request before the request is fulfilled. Gov't Code 552.2661
Documentation of Unpaid Amounts
A district must fully document the existence and amount of those unpaid amounts or the amount of any anticipated costs before requiring a deposit or bond. The documentation is subject to required public disclosure. Gov't Code 552.263(d)
A district shall provide a copy of public information without charge or at a reduced charge if the district determines that waiver or reduction of the charge is in the public interest because providing the information primarily benefits the public.
If the cost to a district of processing the collection of a charge for providing a copy of public information will exceed the amount of the charge, the district may waive the charge.
Gov't Code 552.267
The cost provisions described above do not apply to a publication that is compiled and printed by or for a district for public dissemination. If the cost of the publication is not determined by state law, a district may determine the charge for providing the publication, or the district may provide the publication free of charge, if state law does not require a certain charge. Gov't Code 552.270
Inspection of Public Information
Inspection of Public Information
If the requestor does not request a copy of public information, a district may not impose a charge for making available for inspection any public information that exists in a paper record, except as set forth below. Gov't Code 552.271(a)
If a page contains confidential information that must be edited from the record before the information can be made available for inspection, a district may charge for the cost of making a photocopy of the page from which the confidential information must be edited. No charge other than the cost of the photocopy may be imposed. Gov't Code 552.271(b)
Payment, Deposit, or Bond
The officer for public information or agent may require a requestor to pay, or to make a deposit or post a bond for the payment of, anticipated personnel costs for making available for inspection public information that exists in paper records if:
- The information specifically requested by the requestor is older than five years or completely fills, or when assembled will completely fill, six or more archival boxes; and
- The officer for public information or agent estimates that more than five hours will be required to make the information available for inspection.
Gov't Code 552.271(c)
Certain Small Districts
If a district has fewer than 16 full-time employees, the payment, deposit, or bond may be required only if:
- The information specifically requested by the requestor is older than three years or completely fills, or when assembled will completely fill, three or more archival boxes; and
- The officer for public information or agent estimates that more than two hours will be required to make the information available for inspection.
Gov't Code 552.271(d)
If a district receives a request to inspect information that exists in an electronic medium and that is not available directly online to the requestor, the district may not impose a charge for access to the information unless complying with the request will require programming or manipulation of data. If programming or manipulation of data is required, a district shall notify the requestor before assembling the information and provide the requestor with an estimate of charges that will be imposed.
If public information exists in an electronic form on a computer owned or leased by a district, and the public has direct access to that computer through a computer network or other means, the electronic form of the information may be electronically copied from that computer without charge if accessing the information does not require processing, programming, or manipulation on the district's computer before the information is copied. If such information does require processing, programming, or manipulation before it can be copied, a district may impose charges.
If a district creates or keeps information in an electronic form, the district is encouraged to explore options to separate confidential information from public information and make the public information available to the public through electronic access through a computer network or other means.
Gov't Code 552.272
Temporary Suspension of Requirements for Districts Impacted by Catastrophe
The requirements of the PIA do not apply if a district is currently impacted by a catastrophe and complies with requirements below to declare a suspension period.
"Catastrophe" means a condition or occurrence that interferes with the ability of a district to comply with the requirements of the PIA, including:
- Fire, flood, earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or wind, rain, or snow storm;
- Power failure, transportation failure, or interruption of communication facilities;
- Epidemic; or
- Riot, civil disturbance, enemy attack, or other actual or threatened act of lawlessness or violence.
"Suspension period" means the period of time during which a district may suspend the applicability of the requirements of the PIA.
Initial Suspension Period
A board may suspend the applicability of the PIA to the district for an initial suspension period, which may not exceed seven consecutive days and must occur during the period that:
- Begins not earlier than the second day before the date the district submits notice to the attorney general; and
- Ends not later than the seventh day after the date the district submits that notice.
Extension of Initial Suspension Period
A board may extend an initial suspension period if the board determines that the district is still impacted by the catastrophe on which the initial suspension period was based. The initial suspension period may be extended one time for not more than seven consecutive days that begin on the day following the day the initial suspension period ends.
Notice to the Attorney General
A district that elects to suspend the PIA must submit notice to the attorney general that the district is currently impacted by a catastrophe and has elected to suspend the applicability of the PIA during the initial suspension period.
The notice must be on the form prescribed by the attorney general and must require the district to:
- Identify and describe the catastrophe that the district is currently impacted by;
- State the date the initial suspension period determined by the board begins and the date that period ends;
- If the board has determined to extend the initial suspension period:
- State that the district continues to be impacted by the catastrophe; and
- State the date the extension to the initial suspension period begins and the date the period ends; and
- Provide any other information the office of the attorney general determines necessary.
Notice to the Public
A district that elects to suspend the PIA must provide notice to the public of the suspension in a place readily accessible to the public and in each other location the district is required to post a notice under the Open Meetings Act. The district must maintain the notice of the suspension during the suspension period.
Requests During Suspension Period
Notwithstanding another provision of the PIA, a request for public information received by a district during a suspension period is considered to have been received by the district on the first business day after the date the suspension period ends.
Pending Requests Tolled
A request for public information received by a district before the date an initial suspension period begins are tolled until the first business day after the date the suspension period ends.
Gov't Code 552.233
Large or Frequent Requests
A district may establish reasonable monthly and yearly limits on the amount of time that district employees are required to spend producing public information for inspection or duplication by a requestor, or providing copies of public information to a requestor, without recovering its costs attributable to that personnel time. A yearly time limit may not be less than 36 hours for a requestor during the 12-month period that corresponds to a district's fiscal year. A monthly time limit may not be less than 15 hours for a requestor for a one-month period.
Request by Minor
Any time spent complying with a request submitted in the name of a minor, as defined by Family Code 101.003(a), is to be included in the calculation of the cumulative amount of time spent complying with a request for public information by a parent, guardian, or other person who has control of the minor under a court order and with whom the minor resides, unless that parent, guardian, or other person establishes that another person submitted that request in the name of the minor.
This section does not apply if the requestor is an individual who, for a substantial portion of the individual's livelihood or for substantial financial gain, gathers, compiles, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, investigates, processes, or publishes news or information for and is seeking the information for:
- Dissemination by a news medium or communication service provider, including:
- An individual who supervises or assists in gathering, preparing, and disseminating the news or information; or
- An individual who is or was a journalist, scholar, or researcher employed by an institution of higher education at the time the person made the request for information; or
- Creation or maintenance of an abstract plant as described by Insurance Code 2501.004.
"Communication service provider" has the meaning assigned by Civil Practice and Remedies Code 22.021.
"News medium" means a newspaper, magazine or periodical, a book publisher, a news agency, a wire service, an FCC-licensed radio or television station or a network of such stations, a cable, satellite, or other transmission system or carrier or channel, or a channel or programming service for a station, network, system, or carrier, or an audio or audiovisual production company or internet company or provider, or the parent, subsidiary, division, or affiliate of that entity, that disseminates news or information to the public by any means, including:
- Electronic; and
- Other means, known or unknown, that are accessible to the public.
This section also does not apply if the requestor is an elected official of the United States, this state, or a political subdivision of this state or a representative of a publicly funded legal services organization that is a federal tax exempt entity under Section 501(c)(3), Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
Written Statement of Personnel Time
If a district establishes a time limit, each time the district complies with a request for public information, the district shall provide the requestor with a written statement of the amount of personnel time spent complying with that request and the cumulative amount of time spent complying with requests for public information from that requestor during the applicable monthly or yearly period. The amount of time spent preparing the written statement may not be included in the amount of time in the statement.
Written Estimate of Charges
If the cumulative amount of personnel time spent complying with requests for public information from the same requestor equals or exceeds the established time limit, a district shall provide the requestor with a written estimate of the total cost, including materials, personnel time, and overhead expenses, necessary to comply with the request. The district shall provide the written estimate on or before the tenth day after the date on which the request was made. The amount of this charge relating to the cost of locating, compiling, and producing the public information shall be established by rules prescribed by the attorney general.
When a request is made by a requestor who has made a previous request to the district that has not been withdrawn, for which the district has located and compiled documents in response, and for which the district has issued a written estimate of charges that remains unpaid on the date the requestor submits the new request, the district is not required to locate, compile, produce, or provide copies of documents or prepare an estimate of charges in response to a new request until the date the requestor pays each unpaid statement issued in connection with a previous request or withdraws the previous request to which the statement applies.
If a district provides the requestor with written notice that additional time is required to prepare the written estimate, the district must provide the written estimate as soon as practicable, but on or before the tenth day after the date the district provided the notice that additional time was required.
Acceptance of Charges
If a district provides a requestor with the estimate of charges and the time limits regarding the requestor have been exceeded, a district is not required to produce public information for inspection or duplication or to provide copies of public information in response to the requestor's request unless on or before the tenth day after the date the district provided the written estimate, the requestor submits payment of the amount stated in the written estimate.
If the requestor fails or refuses to submit payment, the requestor is considered to have withdrawn the request.
Waived or Reduced Charges
This section does not prohibit a district from providing a copy of public information without charge or at a reduced rate, or from waiving a charge for providing a copy of public information, under Government Code 552.267 [see Waivers, above].
Gov't Code 552.275
Filing Suit to Withhold Information
A district may file suit seeking to withhold information if the district receives a determination from the attorney general that information must be disclosed to a requestor. The suit must be filed in Travis County district court against the attorney general and must seek declaratory relief from compliance with the attorney general's decision.
The district must bring the suit not later than the 30th calendar day after the district receives the attorney general's decision. If the district wishes to preserve an affirmative defense for its officer for public information, as provided by Government Code 552.353(b)(3), the district must file suit not later than the tenth calendar day after receipt of the attorney general's decision.
Gov't Code 552.324, .353(b)(3)
Parent's Request for Information
A district that receives a request from a parent for public information relating to the parent's child shall comply with the PIA.
A district that seeks to withhold information from a parent who has requested public information relating to the parent's child under the PIA, and that files suit to challenge a decision by the attorney general, must bring the suit not later than the 30th calendar day after the date the district receives the decision of the attorney general, unless an earlier deadline is established by the PIA.
A court shall grant such a suit precedence over other pending matters to ensure prompt resolution. Notwithstanding any other law, a district may not appeal the decision of the court. This prohibition does not affect the right of a parent to appeal the decision. If a district does not bring suit within the period established, the district shall comply with the decision of the attorney general.
Education Code 26.0085