Government Code section 6250: “In enacting this chapter, the Legislature, mindful of the right of individuals to privacy, finds and declares that access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state.”

Proposition 59

Proposition 59 (2004) -  A constitutional amendment which encourages disclosure.
  • Creates a constitutional right under California law to access government information.
  • Requires Public Records Act to be broadly interpreted to further the people’s right to access government information.
  • Does not change:
    • existing statutory exemptions from disclosure or
    • the constitutional right of privacy.

Definition of “Records”

  • Any written information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency.
  • Public records are considered “writings” regardless of format.
    • Handwriting
    • Typewriting
    • Photographs
    • Sounds
    • Video
    • Facsimile transmissions
    • Magnetic or paper tapes
    • Computer disks
    • Computer files on hard drives or PDA’s
    • E-mail

Who May Request Record

Any person
  • Natural person or Corporation (domestic or foreign)
  • Partnership
  • Limited liability company
  • Firm
  • Association
  • Any elected member or officer of any local agency
  • Not necessarily a resident of  school district
  • Not necessarily U.S. citizen

How the Public May Request Public Records

  • The District can not require that the request be in writing.
  • The District can suggest a written request for clarification of what is requested, but may not require it.

Reasons for the Request

The District may ask but not require a reason.
  • Requester could be: 
    • A member of the press – or-
    • Someone with idle curiosity
  • In both cases, the rights to public records are identical

Format of Documents

Paper Documents
  • An exact copy must be provided unless impracticable.
  • Impracticable means the quality of copy, and is a not basis to avoid any copies at all.

Electronic Documents
  • Electronic records must be made available in the same electronic format you use.
  • If a particular format is requested, it should be provided if it’s one that is already in use.

Caveat:  The District may not limit the availability of electronic information to electronic format only.


Physical Copies
  • Physical copies:  Copy of record must be provided upon payment of “direct costs of duplication” 
    • only actual copying cost may be required (including the cost of ink, paper, equipment, machine operator expense, but:
    • not time spent to research, locate, retrieve, and re-file.

Electronic Copies
Electronic copies:  Cost of duplication is limited to the “direct cost.”  If request requires data compilation or extraction, or programming, requester may be required to bear the cost.

Time to Response

  • 10 days to either: 
    • provide the record, or
    • respond with a determination as to when the record will be provided.
    • Days are calendar and not “school” days.

Unusual Circumstances
  • Time limits may be extended by written notice (no more than 14 days).
  • “Unusual circumstances”:
    • Records not located at the main office
    • Require examination of voluminous, separate, and distinct records
    • Require consultation with another agency having substantial interest
    • Require compiling data, computer programming, or to construct a computer report to extract data

Burdensome Requests
  • Time to locate, volume, or cost
    • Not a basis to outright reject a request
  • May be a basis to modify the timing, amount, or kind of records to be released when it would otherwise be an unreasonable burden.
  • Requirement to assist the requestor in narrowing the request.

Requirement to Assist

Any Public Agency Must:
  • Assist the public to identify records and information that are responsive to the request or purpose of the request, if stated.
  • Describe the technology and location in which the records exist.
  • Provide suggestions for overcoming any practical basis for denying access to the records sought.

Exemptions from Disclosure

  • Pupil Records
  • Personnel & Privacy Exception
  • Employees’ home addresses and home phone numbers
  • Preliminary drafts, notes, or intra-agency memoranda not retained in ordinary course
  • Pending litigation or claims
  • Test questions, scoring keys
  • The public interest served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record.

Personnel Files Exemption

  • Personnel, medical, or similar record may be exempt, if, “the disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”
  • Protects intimate details of personal and family life, not business judgments and relationships.

The public employee’s right to privacy may be over-ridden by the public’s “right to know” for:
  • Employment Contracts
  • Salaries
  • Well-founded complaints from members of the Public - even if no discipline or finding that the charge is true

Other Public Records Statutes

Brown Act:
  • Agenda & Attachments
  • Materials Distributed
  • Unless Exempt
  • Public Report of final action taken in closed session
  • Audio or Video Recordings
Statements of Economic Interest:
  • Two (2) day response time
  • No ID required
  • No other conditions