Public Records Requests
The Board believes it is in the District’s interest to make information regarding the District and its activities reasonably available upon public request. To that end, it is the policy of the Board to provide public access to District information consistent with applicable law and in a manner that provides the least disruption to normal operations of the District.
- 1. Public Records
- 2. Records Request
- 3. Costs for Public Records
- 4. E-Mail
- 5. Failure to Respond to a Public Records Request
The Board, in accordance with the Ohio Revised Code, defines records as including the following: any document – paper, electronic (including, but not limited to, e-mail), or other format – that is created or received by, or comes under the jurisdiction of a public office that documents the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office. All records of the District are public unless they are specifically exempt from disclosure under the Ohio Revised Code.
It is the policy of the Board that, as required by Ohio law, records will be organized and maintained so that they are readily available for inspection and copying. Additionally, record retention schedules are to be updated regularly and posted prominently. The Treasurer is the custodian of the official minutes of the Board, its written policies, its financial records and all other public records. Those records, except those that the District is authorized by law to withhold from disclosure, are available for inspection in the Treasurer’s office during that office’s usual business hours. A determination that a record is not public and available for release shall be made by the Treasurer or designee. The District is not required to create a record for release if no such record exists at the time requested. Requests for inspection of public records at an individual school building shall be referred to the building principal. Questions regarding the interpretation or application of this policy shall be referred to the Treasurer. Records pertaining to individual students and other confidential materials are not released for inspection by the public or any unauthorized persons. Only information deemed “directory information” may be released from an individual’s file, and only then in accordance with applicable Policies and regulations.
Each request for public records should be evaluated for a response using the following guidelines:
A. Although no specific language is required to make a request, the requester must at least identify the records requested with sufficient clarity to allow the District to identify, retrieve, and review the records. If it is not clear what records are being sought, the records custodian may deny the request but shall provide the requester with an opportunity to revise the request by informing the requestor of the manner in which the office keeps its records.
B. There is no requirement that an individual making a public records request put a records request in writing or provide his or her identity or the intended use of the requested public record. However, the District may ask a requester to make the request in writing, may ask the requester’s identity, and may inquire about the intended use, but only after disclosing to the requester that a written request is not mandatory and that the requester may decline to reveal the requester’s identity or intended use and when a written request or disclosure of the identity or intended use would benefit the requester by enhancing the ability of the District or person responsible for public records to identify, locate, or deliver the public records sought by the requester.
C. Public records are to be available for inspection during regular business hours, with the exception of published holidays. Public records shall be made available for inspection promptly. Copies of public records must be made available within a reasonable period of time. “Prompt” and “reasonable” shall take into account the volume of records requested; the proximity of the location where the records are stored; and the necessity for any legal review of the records requested.
D. Any denial of public records requested shall include an explanation, including citation to legal authority. If portions of the record are public and portions are exempt, the exempt portions are to be redacted and the public portions released. If there are redactions, each redaction must be accompanied by a supporting explanation, including citation to legal authority.
E. If an individual wants to obtain a copy of the public record, the individual may request to have the record duplicated on paper, on the same medium on which the record is kept, or on any other medium the Treasurer or her/his designee determines that the record can reasonably be duplicated as an integral part of normal operations. When the person requesting the copy makes a choice under this provision, the District will provide the copy in accordance with that choice, if available.
Those seeking public records will be charged only the actual cost of making copies.
A. The charge for paper copies is established in Board Regulation.
B. The charge for downloaded computer files to a compact disc is established in Board Regulation.
C. There is no charge for documents sent via e-mail.
D. Requesters may ask that documents be mailed to them. They will be charged the actual cost of postage and mailing supplies. When an individual requests that copies be mailed, the cost of postage and other supplies used in mailing shall be assessed to the individual requesting the copies.
E. No charge shall be made for paper copies of documents totaling 20 pages or less. The cost of copies in excess of 20 pages, and copies on any other medium, shall be assessed to the individual requesting the copies.
F. The Treasurer shall promulgate a Regulation setting forth the costs to be charged for copying documents based on the costs actually incurred by the District. All assessed costs shall be paid in advance of receiving the requested copies.
Documents in electronic mail format are records as defined by the Ohio Revised Code when their content relates to the business of the District. E-mail is to be treated in the same fashion as records in other formats and should follow the same retention schedules.
A. Records in private e-mail accounts used to conduct District business are subject to disclosure, and all employees or representatives of the District are instructed to retain their e-mails that relate to public business and to copy them to their business e-mail accounts and/or to the District records custodian.
B. The records custodian is to treat the e-mails from private accounts as records of the District, filing them in the appropriate way, retaining them per established schedules and making them available for inspection and copying in accordance with the Public Records Act.
The Board recognizes the legal and non-legal consequences of failure to properly respond to a public records request. In addition to the distrust in government that failure to comply may cause, the Board’s failure to comply with a request may result in a court ordering the Board to comply with the law and to pay the requester attorney’s fees and damages. The Board also recognizes that certain information requested is not readily obtainable and that responding to such inquiries may put an undue burden upon District resources and divert those resources from the mission of the District.
A. Requests for information that is not readily obtainable shall be referred to the Superintendent or his/her designee. If the Superintendent determines in her/his discretion that the request for information puts an undue burden on District resources, the Superintendent shall deny the request for information. In all cases in which the information requested may be determined from public records, those records, other than those that are exempted by law or by Policy from disclosure, shall be made available to the individual requesting the information in accordance with this Policy and applicable law.
B. When a request for copies places an undue burden on the normal operation of the District, the Treasurer may, in his or her discretion, contract with an outside vendor to provide the copies requested, provided that the integrity of the records is not compromised and provision is made so that no records exempt from disclosure are provided to the vendor. The individual requesting the copies will be assessed the actual cost for the services of the outside vendor. Prior to contracting with an outside vendor, the Treasurer or her/his designee shall inform the individual requesting the copies that an outside vendor will be employed, the approximate cost, and the fact that the person requesting the copies will be required to pay that cost.
C. The number of requests by any one person for copies of records to be mailed is limited to ten per month unless the requesting person certifies in writing that the records, or the information in them, shall not be used for commercial purposes.