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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 59Top of Page

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”Top of Page

  • 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 RecordTop of Page

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 RecordsTop of Page

  • 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 RequestTop of Page

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 DocumentsTop of Page

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.

CostsTop of Page

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 Top of Page

  • 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 AssistTop of Page

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 DisclosureTop of Page

  • 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 ExemptionTop of Page

  • 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 StatutesTop of Page

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